Fresno is a pretty preposterous wannabe comedy about two sisters who have lasting conflicts. Martha (Lyonne) is the “good” sister, who has a job as a maid at the Fresno Suites and has managed to buy a house. Her sister Shannon (Greer) has a slew of problems as a result of pathetically poor judgment. She has just gotten out of rehab (sex addiction), and Martha is trying to help her get back on her feet. Shannon is hostile to just about everyone and makes a point to voice her opinions, no matter what they are. This characteristic is one of the many faults with the film; that is, how does this angry person pick up so many sexual contacts? Not that she spends any time getting acquainted with her contacts; she proposes sex at the drop of a hat—or anything else.
Shannon is supposed to be helping Martha clean rooms, but the first chance she gets, she slips away for a quickie with a hotel guest. Martha discovers her, and the encounter ends up very badly with a dead body on their hands, and the rest of the film is an absurd story about the various ruses they use to get rid of the body, strategies usually thought up by Shannon.
This involves visiting the deceased’s sister, getting the body out of the hotel unseen, keeping ice on it to keep it from smelling, finding a place to bury it, stealing or raising enough money to bury it, and so on and on and on.
The works of writer (Karey Dornetto) and director (Jamie Babbit) have primarily been in television. I found the script to be sorely lacking in coherence and got the impression ideas were simply strung together without much regard to logic. For instance, Shannon has not demonstrated an ounce of empathy at any time, and we’ve mentioned her poor problem-solving skills; but suddenly she shows empathy toward two people and gives them good advice! The script also has her sleeping with her therapist and his helping her in a matter he shouldn’t, both of which would get his license revoked. The character could have been anyone—why make him a therapist?
The four main actors—Lyonne, Greer, Plaza, and Amisen—are good in their roles, and this is just about the best thing I can say about Fresno.
An attempt at comedy without much coherence.
Grade: D- By Donna R. Copeland