BREAKING NEWS IN YUBA COUNTY*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film opens in the small town of Yuba County. Sue Buttons (Allison Janney) is listening to self-help tapes and repeating a mantra to herself as she is picking up a birthday cake for herself. She notes to the clerk that the E in her name looks unfinished, but they ignore her.
Sue is married to Karl (Matthew Modine), who is having an affair behind her back. She works as a telemarketer and gets no respect from people she calls or acknowledgment from her coworkers. She makes a reservation for her and Karl to go to a swanky restaurant later that night as a birthday treat.
Karl’s younger brother Petey (Jimmi Simpson) works at an electronics store for Rita (Wanda Sykes) and is expecting twins with his girlfriend Jonelle (Samira Wiley). Her girlfriend and coworker Debbie (Ellen Barkin) frequently accuse Petey of stealing. The store is visited by two criminals, Mina (Awkwafina) and Ray (Clifton Collins Jr), who interrogate Petey over Karl’s whereabouts. Rita comes out with a gun aimed at Mina, but she headbutts Rita and disarms her. They warn Petey about Karl and demand money from him.
Mina and Ray go to Karl’s job at the bank to demand that he launder $3 million of money belonging to Mina’s criminal boss father, Mr. Kim (Keong Sim). Karl says he can’t do it, but the two threaten him with consequences.
Sue follows Karl and sees him picking out flowers. Thinking it’s a surprise for her, she follows him back to a motel and discovers his affair with a woman named Leah (Bridget Everett). When Sue barges into the room and catches them mid-coitus, Karl suffers a heart attack and drops dead. The women are horrified but Sue tells Leah to calm down and leave. She stays in the room overnight with Karl’s body on the floor while watching a talk show with host Gloria Michaels (Juliette Lewis). The hot case is the disappearance of a 13-year-old girl named Emma Rose. Seeing an opportunity, Sue buries Karl’s body and the bag of money, not knowing what’s inside.
The next day, Sue attempts to go to the police to report Karl’s “disappearance”. She tries talking to Detective Harris (Regina Hall), but is unable to when a group of rowdy frat boys come in. Sue goes home in frustration and smashes the TV when she sees another Emma Rose report. Her sister Nancy (Mila Kunis) goes to visit her and sees the place trashed. Sue spins it into making it look like a burglary occurred and that Karl was abducted. Nancy, a reporter, tells Sue she can report her story to the local news and get her coverage. However, Sue sets her sights on Gloria Michaels.
Nancy gets her crew to show up and make a broadcast of Sue saying that Karl has gone missing. Petey sees the news at the store and goes to a restaurant to confront Mina and Ray since he thinks they had something to do with his disappearance. They send him away after demanding 20 grand for his “safe return”, but then realize that if Karl is gone, so is their money. Meanwhile, Harris stops by Sue’s place to investigate, and she notices that certain details of Sue’s account sound a bit fishy.
After paying a visit to Mr. Kim to report on the situation, Mina and Ray go to Karl’s job again where they force his boss Steve (Chris Lowell) to go into Karl’s office and look through his documents. When they find that Karl’s accounts are empty, Mina shoots Steve in the head. Harris and her partner Jones (TC Matherne) arrive to investigate the murder, and Harris berates the staff for giving them bad surveillance pictures of Mina and Ray.
Sue goes to Gloria’s studio to try and get her to break the story on Karl, but Gloria is primarily interested in covering the Emma Rose story. Sue lies and says that Karl found out who allegedly kidnapped Emma, claiming there is a link between the two disappearances. Gloria decides to allow Sue on the show to tell her tale, where she paints Karl as some kind of conspiracy theorist.
Petey tries grabbing some stuff from the back of the store, where Rita catches him. He explains himself to her, and she agrees to join him in getting some extra cash. Harris and Jones go to the store to question Petey, and after Harris asks him what Karl’s favorite conspiracy theory was, Petey is confused, which makes Harris more suspicious of Sue.
Two of Sue’s coworkers stop by her house to offer well-wishes for her and Karl. Jonelle stops by the house too to tell Sue that Karl never mentioned any kind of conspiracy theory, but her main concern is Petey’s welfare. After she leaves, Nancy shows up to confront Sue about taking the Karl story to Gloria, since she hoped it could have been a big break for her news station. Sue talks to her about when they were kids, and Nancy appeared to be embarrassed of walking to school with Sue because the others told her that her sister was unattractive, and Nancy told them Sue was only her half-sister. Nancy then sees some footage of the Gloria interview, making her question Sue since she pretended not to know who Emma was when she spoke to Gloria, but she had clearly mentioned her to Nancy earlier.
Later that night, Petey and Rita break into a mall jewelry store and steal whatever they can. While they are stashing it away the next day at work, Sue goes into the store and meets Debbie, who shows her sympathy and gives her a new TV. Sue returns home to find Mina and Ray waiting there to question her. After intimidating Sue, Mina gives her a card with her number to call in case any other news about Karl turns up.
Nancy organizes an interview at Sue’s house with Emma’s parents to try and make it a sensational and emotional news story. While the parents show up, the interview is interrupted when Leah shows up to Sue’s house to talk to her. Outside, Leah threatens to tell the police the truth about what happened to Karl unless Sue gives her the money that Karl had. Harris is sitting in her car observing everything. As she leaves, Sue calls Mina and gives her Leah’s license plate number to go after her. Harris steps out of her car to ask Sue about when she had time to eat her birthday cake after the “burglary”, but Sue manages to cover her tracks with that as well. Emma’s parents then leave the house since they were waiting on Sue, and Nancy once again chastises her sister for ruining another good story opportunity.
At the police station, Jones tells Harris that Karl has been involved in money laundering for months, and he pulls up a surveillance image of Mina and Ray going to meet with Karl the day he disappeared. Captain Riggins (Dominic Burgess) then scolds Harris for apparently harassing Sue at her house in her investigation. Harris later goes to Leah’s house to meet with her, but the house is empty. She finds a charge on her card for her time at the motel and finds a new lead.
Petey goes to give the stolen jewelry to Mina since he thinks it’s worth at least 20 grand. Mina takes it, and it’s shown that she and Ray have already abducted Leah. They take her to Mr. Kim to interrogate her. Before Ray can start cutting off Leah’s fingers, they see the coverage of Sue fake-crying outside her house for Karl.
Harris goes to Sue’s house to arrest her and bring her down to the station and question her about Leah’s disappearance. News reporters are all waiting at the station as Sue is brought in. Harris questions her about the events of the day Karl disappeared, but Riggins once again comes down hard on Harris for bothering Sue.
Rita catches Mina and takes her to the store at gunpoint. Meanwhile, Jonelle finds one of the stolen jewelry rings in her home. Petey later has to explain himself when she finds it. Rita has Mina tied up and accidentally shoots her ear off. Mr. Kim learns from Ray that Mina is gone, and they start interrogating Leah again. Leah tells them that Sue has their money, but even as she begs for her life, Mr. Kim kills her by drilling a hole in her head. Ray then goes to the store and shoots Rita dead before finding Mina. As they try to escape, Debbie comes running in with a hatchet and throws it, but Ray shoots her dead too. He douses the place with kerosene before seeing that Mina got hit in the chest with the hatchet. Ray drags her body outside after setting the place on fire.
Nancy picks Sue up from the station, but when they get home, she shows Sue the audio of her and Leah arguing outside since her crew managed to record it. Sue goes inside the house, refusing to let Nancy help. Mr. Kim appears, having been waiting for Sue to come home. He sits the two ladies down at gunpoint and demands to know where Karl is. After Sue still lies and said he disappeared, Kim shoots Nancy in the leg, forcing Sue to come clean and take him to Karl’s body.
While Sue brings Kim to the motel, Petey finds the store on fire and realizes something is wrong. Ray goes to Petey’s house to kill him and Jonelle, but she is hiding and throws scalding hot water in Ray’s face, blinding him. He fires wildly around the house until Jonelle corners him in their children’s bedroom and brutally stabs him to death. Petey comes home in time to console his wife.
Harris and Jones make it to the motel just as Sue is digging up Karl’s body. She pulls out the money and hands it to Kim. The detectives show up with their guns, but Kim shoots Jones dead before Harris fires two shots at him. Sue goes to thank her, but Harris is ready to incriminate her in whatever is going on. Kim rises for one more shot at Harris, but she fires one more shot to kill him. Unfortunately, Harris’s wound is fatal, and she dies too. Police and media arrive on the scene, leaving Sue to be the only one to give her side of the story.
A year later, Sue has become a best-selling author after recovering from her “ordeal”. It is also reported that Emma Rose was found safe at a bus stop in Florida after she claimed to have run away from home. Sue goes back on Gloria’s show to promote the book, embracing her newfound fame.
Sue Buttons is frequently ignored by her peers and husband Karl. When she discovers that Karl is having an affair with a woman named Leah, she catches them in the act, leading to Karl suffering a fatal heart attack. After Sue sees a sensational story about a missing 13-year-old named Emma Rose, she hatches an idea to fake Karl's disappearance so that she can garner media attention.
Karl was involved in a money-laundering scheme for a crime boss named Mr. Kim. Kim's daughter Mina and her partner Ray handed Karl $3 million to launder before he died. After Sue's sister Nancy helps break the news of Karl's "disappearance" to the media, his younger brother Petey thinks that Mina and Ray were involved. They extort him for 20 grand to supposedly return Karl, but they realize this means Kim's millions are missing too. At the same time, Detective Harris and her partner Jones investigate the alleged disappearance, and Harris knows Sue isn't telling the whole truth.
Sue tries to take her story to local news host Gloria Michaels, even spinning the story to make it seem like Karl's disappearance is connected with Emma Rose's disappearance. After Sue meets Mina and Ray, who are still looking for Karl, Leah stops by to demand Karl's money or she'll tell the police the truth about where he is. Sue gets Mina and Ray to kidnap Leah, having Mr. Kim kill her after Mina is taken by Petey's boss Rita, who helped him steal jewelry to make up 20 grand for Karl. Ray finds Mina at Rita's store, where he kills Rita and her lover Debbie, but Debbie had already thrown a hatchet at Mina's chest to kill her. Ray sets the place on fire.
Mr. Kim finds Sue and Nancy, shooting Nancy in the leg to force Sue to tell him where Karl and his money are. Meanwhile, Ray goes to Petey's house to kill him and his girlfriend Jonelle, but Jonelle kills Ray first. Harris and Jones arrive as Sue is digging up Karl and the money, leading to a shootout where Harris kills Kim, but he managed to shoot her and Jones fatally as well.
A year later, Sue becomes a best-selling author and manages to get away with everything.