BARE BONES: BREAKING NEWS IN YUBA COUNTY (2021)

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BREAKING NEWS IN YUBA COUNTY (2021)

Comedy/drama finds small town wife Sue Buttons (Allison Janney) feeling insignificant and ignored, especially as it is her birthday and no one seems to care. Things change when she catches her philandering, money laundering husband Karl (Matthew Modine) cheating on her at a motel and the surprise of her appearance gives him a heart attack. She buries his body and then concocts a wild story about him being missing and possibly kidnapped, to gain attention. When her ambitious local reporter sister (Mila Kunis) seizes the opportunity for a big story and goes on the air with Sue’s yarn, things start to snowball. Be careful what you wish for, as Sue keeps embellishing upon her story to cover the plot holes and she catches the attention of some of Karl’s shady business partners (Awkwafina and Clifton Collins Jr.) and a suspicious detective (Regina Hall).

Flick is directed by Tate Taylor (The Help, The Girl on the Train) from a script by Amanda Idoko and despite strong work from Janney and a really talented cast, it’s a sadly mediocre effort. The film has it’s moments, but never lives up to it’s potential and is kind of dull, when all is said and done. The script never takes full advantage of it’s premise, despite a promising set-up, and the direction by Taylor is surprisingly very by the numbers. Somber film has none of the manic energy it needs to make this a spirited farce, is never engaging enough on a dramatic level and the spurts of Tarantino-esque graphic violence seem out of place. The cast does what it can with the thin material, but even the likes of Wanda Sykes, Ellen Barkin and Juliette Lewis, in addition to the cast members already mentioned, can’t elevate this routine comedy from being anything more than a moderately amusing diversion…and it struggles with that. On top of everything else, it ends exactly as you’d expect something like this to end. Disappointing considering all the talent involved.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: MA (2019)

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MA (2019)

Cliché filled thriller finds pretty high school student Maggie (Diana Silvers) moving back to her mother Erica’s (Juliette Lewis) home town after her parents separate. Maggie soon makes friends and when out in pursuit of some liquor to party, they meet lonely Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer). Sue Ann starts to buy them booze and soon invites them to use her basement to party in. As “Ma” gets more and more involved in their lives, her behavior starts to get stranger and stranger. Maggie soon starts to believe their new ‘friend’ has ulterior motives for her hospitality, but what is she up to and why?

Aside from an unsettling performance from veteran Spencer and a solid heroine in Silvers’ Maggie, there isn’t much to say about this flick. It’s a routine and very familiar thriller from writer Scotty Landes and director Tate Taylor, who don’t bring anything new to the stalker/crazy person sub-genres. Ma’s hidden agenda is no surprise, as it is revealed to us, over the course of the film, through flashbacks to Sue Ann’s days in high school and what pushed her over the edge, so to speak. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, plays out exactly as we expect and not portrayed in any way innovative or creative. Aside from good performances from the leads and from supporting cast members Juliette Lewis and Luke Evans, there would be very little to recommend here. The cast, especially Octavia Spencer, deserved better material and we deserved a better movie.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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