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‘Breaking News in Yuba County’ Review: Lampooning Suburbia


In the 2020 comedy “Lazy Susan,” the superb actress Allison Janney strove mightily to make a credible character out of what, as written, was a glib, nasty caricature and the centerpiece of a facile lampoon of suburbia. Janney now stars in “Breaking News in Yuba County,” which gives one the sinking feeling that Janney actually likes starring in facile lampoons of suburbia.

Here Janney plays Sue Buttons, a housewife who likes to spend her time watching daytime TV and repeating affirmations that were already stale joke material by the time they made “Stuart Saves His Family” (that was 1995). Her husband (Matthew Modine) is involved in money-laundering; when he meets with a farcical mishap, she sees an opportunity to find fame, all the while in ignorance of a big bag of money that she, in a sense, has inherited from her spouse.

Early on, this Mississippi-shot story leans in the direction of a warm-weather “Fargo.” It is replete with big names playing nasty characters doing ugly things. “Awkwafina head-butts Wanda Sykes” could be a satisfactory one-sentence recap of the picture.

Only there’s more, and it’s worse. People who believe that the “Fargo” creators Joel and Ethan Coen hold their characters in contempt ought to have a look at this. It’s how contempt is really done, only at a much lower level of wit and intelligence.

One may wonder how Tate Taylor, who has overseen high-profile, conventional, ostensibly respectable Hollywood product like “The Girl on the Train” and “The Help,” came to direct this amoral, repellent bag of sick, a movie whose biggest ambition in life is to start a bidding war at a late 1990s Sundance Film Festival and then bomb at the box office. Call it water finding its own level, maybe.

Breaking News in Yuba County
Rated R for “repellent” (actually language, violence, brief nudity). Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Amazon, Vudu and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.


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