Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection

Directed by Tyler Perry.
2012. Rated PG-13, 114 minutes.
Denise Richards
Doris Roberts
Romeo Miller
John Amos
Marla Gibbs
Tom Arnold
Danielle Campbell
Devan Leos
Frank Brennan
Nelson Bonilla

Tyler Perry is back in drag, yet again. This time around, Madea’s FBI agent nephew Brian (also Perry) talks her into hiding an entire family while its patriarch George (Levy) is waiting to testify against the mob. His brood is made up of his wife Kate (Richards), their two teen aged children Cindy (Campbell) and Howie (Leos) and George’s senile mother Barbara (Roberts). Already living with her is her brother Joe (Perry the third). Finally, Jake (Miller) is always around trying to figure out how we will get the money to pay off his church’s mortgage after losing it through bad investments. Trite jokes about race and class plus an admittedly rehashed plotline from a Whoopi Goldberg movie ensues.

By now, I’m 99% immune to the character Madea. I didn’t find her all that funny all those years ago when she first took over the black theater circuit in the plays that served as a springboard to fame and fortune for her performer and creator, Tyler Perry. Now, with each installment in the canon, I find her incrementally less humorous. That’s a problem in a movie where she does lots more talking than anyone else. Obviously, since these pictures keep raking in the loot, it’s a “me” problem, but whatever. More of an issue is that no one else is particularly funny, either. Perry does have some chuckle-worthy moments as Joe, mostly because of the reactions than anything he actually says. Eugene Levy also manages a couple. In a cameo right at the beginning, Tom Arnold is really good. Wily vet Doris Roberts has the most success. She steals all of her scenes though the material she’s working with is hardly groundbreaking. Her moments with Joe are the most entertaining. Unfortunately, the jokes are all paint-by-numbers. Madea or Joe does something “black” and the family has a “white” reaction or vice-versa.

The story is similarly conventional. The next point in the arc is always easy to sniff out, especially since there is nothing that even threatens to throw us off the scent. So the movie never generates any palpable sense of danger. The one element that may have helped, the people George is protesting against are pretty much absent from the movie. This makes it impossible to see what everyone’s so afraid of. No effort is put into making me give a flip about these people. Without any real heart, Madea’s Witness Protection is just a string of jokes, almost all of which we’ve heard before.

MY SCORE: 2/10

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