Film Review – Breaking News In Yuba County

Breaking News In Yuba County (M)

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Starring: Allison Janney, Mila Kunis, Regina Hall

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

Come for the all star cast, barely stay for a great lead performance and one funny side character with recent misfire Breaking News in Yuba County.

When sweet and simple small town woman Sue Buttons (Allison Janney) catches her husband Karl (Matthew Modine) in a hotel room cheating on her on her birthday – that he, her family and workmates all forgot about – he dies.

Sue takes this opportunity to get some long overdue attention and enlists her TV journalist sister Nancy’s help to spread the word that he is missing – but this sets off a series of escalating lies that Detective Cam Harris (Regina Hall) is getting increasingly suspicious about.

Breaking News in Yuba County crams in a lot of characters (I have only mentioned a fraction of them so far, lest this synopsis reads like a Wikipedia entry) and plot thickening twists but without much to say of any substance on small town communities or the media, this is merely a satire without much aim.

There are plenty of elements at play (perhaps too many) and yet Taylor cannot seem to find the right way to smoosh them all together, and especially cannot decide on tone or has much of an eye for comedy.

Bringing in Kunis as a scoop desperate Gayle Weathers type, but have her play it down or recruit Regina Hall but have her play it completely straight (even crying at one point) seems pointless – even Awkwafina feels awkward as a ruthless killer that has trouble intimidating people. They all have weird wigs and slobby clothes though, so LOL, I guess?

They should be providing huge belly laughs, but Taylor either won’t let them be funny, or is not able to guide them to find the funny. Only Wanda Sykes, basically playing her usual hilarious self, in a supporting role provides the biggest laughs with her effortless banter.

The one passing grace is the brilliant Janney, who embodies all the complexities of her delicately drawn character, making her simultaneously tragic and sympathetic. Without her anchoring this directionless “comedy”, it would be an immediate write-off.

With Drowning Mona, Fargo and Drop Dead Gorgeous vibes, Breaking News in Yuba County has an all star cast with dark comedy tendencies, and yet lacks the bite, wit and joyful wickedness of its predecessors.

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