Saturday, March 20, 2021

Breaking News in Yuba County: Movie Review

An insane dark comedy with a killer cast.
Breaking News in Yuba County is a very chaotic dark comedy that only works because of its cast. Sue Buttons (Allison Janney) is a depressed, lonely suburban wife with an awful telemarketing job, a cheating, morally-bankrupt, criminal husband, no friends who actually like her and family members who couldn’t care less about her. And today’s her birthday. Everybody forgot because nobody cares.   2021

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Screenplay by: Amanda Idoko

Starring: Allison Janney, Mila Kunis

Matthew Modine, in a way-too-short role for a man of his talents, plays the ill-fated husband, Karl Buttons. A banker who stupidly breaks laws for stupid criminals and then buys flowers for his mistress instead of his wife. The mistress is Leah (Bridget Everett) who makes the most of her appearances throughout the film, and could have been even more important, but the film lets chaos reign supreme instead.

The extremeness of every action is funny. Janney breaking into her husband’s motel room tryst, the death of the husband, Leah’s reactions with a boob out of her lingerie flailing about, and Janney’s Sue just doing whatever the hell she wants. At this point no crimes have been committed, but we’re also only like five minutes into the movie. Oh yeah, it moves fast. Sue becomes a hapless criminal in record time, whose ultimate goal is not money, or peace or happiness, but fame.

Luckily for Sue, she has a news reporter sister (Mila Kunis) and uses that initial press and some wildly concocted stories to get her onto the Gloria Michaels Show. This is Juliette Lewis doing her best Nancy Grace impression and the whole thing seems to have come straight out of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but I also found that show funny.

There are two things that keep the film moving forward. 1. Which famous actor is going to appear as the next insane character? Your options include (but are not limited to) Jimmi Simpson as a former hapless criminal trying to make it right, Wanda Sykes as a furniture store owner who wants to be a criminal, Awkwafina as a low-level criminal who wants to make easy money by pretending to have committed a crime that she had nothing to do with. I think you get the idea. And 2. How quickly before this web of nonsense lies and crimes blows up in Sue’s face?

One has to assume all of the famous actors had a lot of fun with this. Especially Regina Hall who gets to play the sane cop in a really bad hairdo who is constantly seconds away from unravelling the whole thing before another crime is committed sending us deeper down the Yuba County rabbit hole. The insanity with which this film is guided by is not a particularly good template to follow. With lesser actors, this falls apart in minutes, but the cast really is very funny, and eventually you want to see who gets away with what. Not a wholly satisfying ending, I think they were counting on the sheer number of dead bodies to be more entertaining than it is.