[Review] – Madea’s Witness Protection

9 Jul

Title: Madea’s Witness Protection
Year: 2012
Director: Tyler Perry
Writer: Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy, Denise Richards, Romeo Miller, Doris Roberts, Marla Gibbs
MPAA Rating: PG-13, some crude sexual remarks and brief drug references
Runtime: 114 min
IMDb Rating: 3.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 20%
Metacritic: 42

Tyler Perry, Tyler Perry, Tyler Perry. It seems like every time I review a film by the ridiculously successful multi-hyphenate that is Tyler Perry I have to begin with some sort of disclaimer: I’m as far off as it gets for the intended audience of his movies. The guy seems to have a couple of movies out every year, one in which he cross-dresses as his trademark character, Madea, and another one in which he doesn’t. The latter of those two yearly outputs of his was Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, which I saw back in mid-March, and which I gave a C- to, and now he has his Madea movie, Madea’s Witness Protection, out in theaters right now, and this one will definitely score a lower grade than a C-.

I think the man has one film that showed at least a bit of promise, which was 2010’s For Colored Girls, which I gave a B to, but other than that I just don’t get his films at all. Granted, I’m a twenty year-old white boy and his films are mostly targeted towards African American women in their forties, who over the years have shown some truly incredibly loyalty to this man’s brand, always front-loading his films like geek fanboys usually do and making them box office successes when it’s all said and done. But yeah, target demographic or not, Madea’s Witness Protection just didn’t work at all for me.

This film stars Eugene Levy as George Needleman, who’s a Wall Street CFO who’s not really all that in tune with what’s going on around him, something that the firm he works for uses to their advantage as they set him up to be the fall guy for the Ponzi scheme they’re perpetrating with the help of the mob. He’s facing stuff from both sides, criminal charges from the law and death threats from the mob, so the federal prosecutor orders him to go under the witness protection program, and sends him over to the safest place he think of, his aunt Madea’s house.

You pretty much know by now what to expect from a Madea movie. Mr. Perry dressed in drag delivering really entitled big monologues as this black woman, giving his attempt at super broad comedy, with this no-nonsense character made to look like the wisest person ever. And I mean, it’s all just damn silly, really. Not only is it silly to entrust this woman with the safety of a whole family against the mob. But it’s also silly that this is a family in which you have to believe Eugene Levy is married to Denise Richards, and that it’s not because she’s a gold-digger. So you see the unlikely partnership that starts between George and Madea while also having this wealthy family in a fish-out-of-water storyline.

To be perfectly honest, I actually could have seen this film working. I mean, for one, the witness protection subject is one that has appeared in comedies before, but I can’t really think of one that’s done it right, so this could have broken new ground had it done that, and, secondly, Eugene Levy is a gifted comedic performer, so had the material been good then he would’ve knocked it out of the park. Mr. Perry should have embraced Mr. Levy’s comedic talents, shaped the film around him and not Madea, and maybe give us a film that, because it did just that, behaved like an anti-Tyler Perry film, one that would’ve appealed to a broader audience, one that was self-aware about the over-the-top stylings of his films and how people think of them. That would have required some balls, and considering how much money his formula has made him, it’s not like many can blame Mr. Perry for not messing around with it.

So yeah, I just didn’t like this movie one bit. It’s one of those that I would urge you to avoid seeing. Hell, even that over-the-top kind of style, the absurdity of their theatricality that is present in many of Mr. Perry’s films is toned down here; and this film would have been better had it embraced the outrageousness of some of its scenarios. This one instead goes for nearly two hours, a far too long running time, just giving us cliché after cliché of this storyline, trying to impart some good ol’ life lessons with those Madea monologues, and having the cast just deliver some truly bad performances, even Mr. Levy who deserves much better. I really, really disliked this film, I hated how there was just absolutely nothing worth noting about it, which is rare even for a Tyler Perry film.

Like I said, I am most certainly not part of Tyler Perry’s target demographic. But, even when I wasn’t, at times I couldn’t take my eyes off the stuff he did, because I knew there was something to them, and because at the very least they were plenty energetic. Here, the energy’s gone, and the man seems like, after making a movie or two every year, he’s kind of getting tired of his own schtick, mailing it in with a movie like this, a totally forgettable creation starring the character that made him a household name. Still, this one’s made over $45 million already on a $20 million budget, so we’ll likely be getting Tyler Perry films for years to come.

Grade: D

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