Breaking News in Yuba County is a strange crime-comedy that’s both overdeveloped and undercooked. The movie has a stacked cast of comedic character actors and, it’s true, the audience can’t help but enjoy watching these actors in motion. However, since the story builds off of a deceitful faux pas in such convoluted ways, movie goers also can’t help but grow exhausted and impatient.
Continuing his eclectic streak as a filmmaker, director Tate Taylor (The Help, The Girl on the Train, Ma) tries to tap into dark comedy instincts and capture the same spirit of similar films made by the Coen Brothers – notably Fargo and Burn After Reading. I don’t usually like comparing movies by different filmmakers, but I found it easier to classify Breaking News in Yuba County by ranking it against possible influences. Fargo and even Burn After Reading are in a different and more professional league than Taylor’s movie because the Coen Brothers tighten their projects extremely well; utilizing different factors, but also keeping them self-contained. Taylor’s movie (with no help from Amanda Idoko’s chaotic script) is much too broad. Granted, this is the type of humour Breaking News in Yuba County wants to dabble in, but this separates the movie from the Coen’s work.
From here, we work our way down to more comparable, undervalued movies like Life of Crime and Austin Found – two wacky crime-comedies that play on obsessions of fame during serious felonies. While not as funny as these two examples, this is the wheelhouse Breaking News in Yuba County should’ve been aiming for instead of overextending its ambition. However, Taylor’s movie has too many actors playing “roles” instead of characters. Some may have more personality than others, but everyone is a gear within this movie’s mechanics. It’s an ensemble film only in the sense that it takes a team effort to move the story forward.
With multiple belaboured crime plots, minor laughs scattered throughout, and a last act that becomes off-puttingly violent, Breaking News in Yuba County is all over the map.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie