Grae's Rating:

1.5

Madea should go Medea on Tyler Perry.

Why spend so much time going through the charade of creating a story that makes very little sense, characters that have the depth of a wading pool, and eco-conscious jokes that have been recycled a million times when all we really want to see is Madea smack a kid with a hammer? Why do we have to go through this ruse, Tyler Perry? After watching talented performers stumble through this latest film in the Madea canon, I beg you to just give us an all-Madea montage--that's how to give people their money's worth.

Perry's movies are the equivalent of sitting on a porch swing to get your cardiovascular exercise in for the day. Sometimes, that's just what you need. In Madea's Witness Protection, though, it's less sitting on a swing and more lying on the ground and waiting for a death that will not come. There are laughs in it, according to the enthusiastic audience I saw it with, but they're pretty spaced out and belong to Madea. What happens between them is unremarkable.

George Needleman (Eugene Levy) discovers that he is the chief financial officer of a company that employs use of the sexy-topic-of-three-years-ago Ponzi scheme. Tom Arnold is in the film long enough to explain this, throw some papers in a briefcase, make a penis joke, and mysteriously disappear. Somehow the mob is involved too, as evidenced by the guy in the shiny black suit who leaves a dead rat at George's house, warning him not to squeal on anyone even though he has no idea what's going on. So, the world's worst accountant with equally bad judgement trusts the FBI to hide him in Madea's house while he helps them build a case against his company. In the hallowed halls of the Big Lady's house, they learn that grandma Kate (Doris Roberts) isn't as crazy as they think, carbs are good, and making kids cry is the best way to teach them a lesson.

Any scene that doesn't have Madea in it is just filler--and that's pretty normal, but this time, it's painful. If you can't get Eugene Levy to be funny you're in trouble, and putting him in a scene with Denise Richards as his wife actually tastes awkward (so make sure to buy soda to wash your mouth out). When he's not trying to bring the best out of his screen-wife with generous-and-beginner-level-improv, he spends a lot of time mugging behind his desk. Meanwhile, Brian (Tyler Perry) has awkward scenes with some white guy boss man who is either A) not supporting him as a detective B) making nonsensical Boy George references or C) encouraging him to spread his wings and fly like an FBI eagle. I couldn't really tell which. There's also a subplot involving who George's real father is, but don't expect it to be treated as interesting or explosive--it actually gets buried and forgotten among all the other non-happenings in the movie. Doris Roberts is too busy yelling racial slurs for anyone to pay attention to the lineage of their family.

What to watch for: Madea going through airport security, what she calls the Statue of Liberty, her muttering anything, and her explanation for why well-endowed women can't sleep on their backs. Had the movie just been those four things, it would have gotten five stars.

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