Madea’s Witness Protection teeters toward being mildly amusing
Starring Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy, and Denise Richards. Rated PG. Now playing
Madea’s Witness Protection is the latest entry in Tyler Perry’s thriving Madea franchaise. Madea—a trash-talking grandma with the lowest hanging boobs in the ’hood—is actually writer-director Perry in drag. Fellow director Spike Lee has been openly critical of Madea’s stereotypical nature. Although I share a definite befuddlement over the character’s continuing popularity, she’s been a gold mine for her creator.
The bad news? Madea hasn’t changed a bit. She still wears flannel nightgowns to the grocery store and still threatens to bitch slap anyone who shows her disrespect. Her liquor of choice? “If it’s brown, pour it.” Her typical response to stress? “I need a joint.” You may find this funny. (Apparently, Oprah does.) Personally, I find it tiresome. And I’ve only seen two previous movies in this seemingly endless series.
This time around, Perry is cautious enough to take some of the burden off his most recycled character. A lot of the heavy lifting is done by Eugene Levy. Levy portrays George, a harried Wall Street accountant targeted by the Mafia. George ends up hiding out at Madea’s house with the rest of his family, which includes Doris Roberts as his senile mother and Denise Richards as his patient wife. He also has a couple of kids, including a mouthy teenaged girl (Danielle Campbell) who drives Madea nuts.
Perry encourages the cast to overact rather shamelessly. Levy comes across as particularly overheated, yet it’s a tribute to the veteran ensemble cast that one or two isolated moments manage to teeter toward being mildly amusing.
Maybe I just don’t get it. But then, box-office success has a way of wearing down even the most persistent critic. Did my eyes deceive me? Or was that actually Lee in an uncredited cameo as a limo driver?
Watch the trailer for Madea’s Witness Protection.