There is such a thing as too much plot, Amanda Idoko.
Breaking News in Yuba County is a new black comedy from director Tate Taylor (The Help) about a middle-aged woman tired of not getting the attention she deserves. I had hoped that with such a stellar cast and an interesting lineup of producers that this movie wouldn’t be so plain bad. Before we get into it, here’s a recap:
An unappreciated and invisible Sue Buttons only wants to celebrate her birthday. It turns from bad to worse when she catches her husband at a motel with a stranger. When she confronts the two of them, her husband has a heart attack and dies. Sue decides to bury his body and pretend that he has gone missing in order to get on the news and garner some “overdue” attention. Several stations jump on the story.
Meanwhile, a band of criminals who just gave Sue’s husband 3 million dollars to launder want their money back, and make the brother of the deceased a target. Chaos ensues, many die, and Sue’s story reaches millions until she is nearly found out by the police, but saved once again by the idiotic actions of the rest of the cast around her.
While I don’t really recommend you watch the movie, you have to see it to grasp the whole of the plot. What’s really wrong with this picture is that too much happens. Every plot point tries to be more extreme than the last, but the tension plateaus very early and is completely undercut by the poorly written comedy. Some of the jokes and situations will likely make you laugh, but it can’t really be helped with the inclusion of the ridiculous circus-fare score by Jeff-Beal.
I also expected much more from Allison Janney and Awkwafina who have done nothing but impress me until I saw this film. I don’t blame them entirely for their weak performances, but a good actor can usually power through a subpar script. This was not the case in Breaking News in Yuba County.
This film is reminiscent of movies like The Lobster or A Serious Man, but little care was taken to inject any of the heart you’ll remember from those far-superior, fellow black comedies. I have nothing particularly good to say about anybody’s performance except for Wanda Sykes and Jimmi Simpson. They had a recognizable comedic chemistry that really accentuated how flat every joke that didn’t involve them was.
Breaking News in Yuba County could have been something far better, and it’s hard to pinpoint where along the way the success could have broken down. Try catching up on the 2020 awards nominees before you force this dry morsel down your gullet. I give Breaking News in Yuba County a 1.5 out of 5.