Breaking News in Yuba County – movie review

Breaking News in Yuba County is a low-rent comedy that failed to ignite for me.

Married for 30 years and working in a menial job, the awkward Sue Buttons (Allison Janney) is treated shamefully by everybody in small town California. It’s her birthday and she’s keen to share the occasion with her husband, Karl (Matthew Modine), but he is too busy having an affair. Meanwhile her work colleagues recognise another employee’s birthday, but not hers. Sue bought herself a supermarket cake marking the occasion, but can’t even stand up for herself after pointing out a spelling error to a disinterested sales assistant. Her attitude changes significantly, though, after she catches out her husband.

She makes out that he’s disappeared and after being interviewed on local television by her ambitious younger half-sister Nancy (Mila Kunis), the police show interest in the case. Mind you, the lead detective, Cam Harris (Regina Hall), who has her suspicions, isn’t believed by her superior. But there is a lot more going on here. Sue’s husband has been money laundering and is being sought by a ruthless crime family (headlined by Mina – Akwafina), who apply pressure to his thieving younger brother, Petey (Jimmi Simpson), to give him up. Petey is a retail sales assistant trying to go straight because his partner is pregnant.

Meanwhile, Sue continues her exhortations, amounting to a web of lies, that will result in many casualties, as she befriends a big-name television star. She appears to revel in the limelight and grow more emboldened by the day.

Breaking News in Yuba County is far-fetched with a wafer-thin script. Although it has been written by Amanda Idoko (her feature film writing debut) with laughs in mind, I simply found it sad, unedifying and far below the usual standard set by the several big names involved in this project. My first thought was “what were they thinking”.

Credibility seems to be deliberately lacking and I found it impossible to get excited. I get that it’s a spoof, but the whole thing felt like amateur hour. In fact, I’m surprised director Tate Taylor (The Girl on the Train) was willing to put his name to it.

Alex First

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