As its title implies, Addicted to Fresno fancies itself a pertinent statement on matters of dependence. Shannon (Judy Greer) is a sex addict—and registered sex offender. Her sister, Martha (Natasha Lyonne), is hooked on the city of Fresno itself, unable to break free of its pervasively gloomy grasp. Together they work to cure themselves and mend their fraught relationship, with Martha giving Shannon a place to stay and getting her a job as a maid at the same nondescript hotel where she works.
For a spell, director Jamie Babbit’s film moves forward as an acrimonious character study. But suddenly, as if realizing there’s not enough gristle on that bone, Addicted to Fresno hangs a sharp turn when Shannon sleeps with a hotel guest (Jon Daly) and inadvertently kills him. And in the name of the sister code, Martha agrees to help cover up the crime, with a blackmail attempt then prompting poorly reasoned schemes to score cash.
The corpse, which becomes cumbersome only when the plot requires it, is intended as the conduit to the sisters’ salvation. Yet with each passing minute, the more Karey Dornetto’s erratic screenplay becomes consumed by pseudo-screwball set pieces, the film’s larger points essentially fall by the wayside in the name of black comedy that’s largely without genuine edge.
Rather than affording the sisters one final crucial confrontation to air their grievances, and instead of even peripherally providing resolutions for their fixative habits, the narrative just stops as Shannon confesses to the crime and is hauled to jail. This staunch rejection of real resolution might have been the film’s biggest joke if it didn’t render it with such sunny earnestness, convinced everything is a-okay in the profoundly addled minds of its main characters. According to the film, killing a guy is all it takes to save one’s soul.