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"MADEA'S WITNESS PROTECTION"
(2012) (Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A Wall Street CFO set up to be the patsy in a Ponzi scheme is relocated to an FBI safe house, which is owned by Tyler Perry's sassy Madea character.
PLOT:
When accountant-turned-CFO George Needleman (EUGENE LEVY) discovers that he is the patsy in a Ponzi scheme that has bilked a dozen charities out of millions of dollars and laundered money for the mob, he decides to help the FBI retrieve the swindled funds. He also hopes his testimony will put his crooked CEO, Walter (TOM ARNOLD), behind bars.

To keep him protected from the Mafia, good-hearted agent Brian (TYLER PERRY) places George and his family with his sassy, domineering Aunt Madea (Also PERRY) and his father Joe (also PERRY) in Atlanta. Madea quickly clashes with George's younger second wife, Kate (DENISE RICHARDS); snotty teenage daughter Cindy (DANIELLE CAMPBELL); and put-upon son, Howie (DEVAN LEOS). George's senile mother, Barbara (DORIS ROBERTS), meanwhile, believes that she has finally found George's biological father Joe!

George's attempts to right the wrong that has been done to the various charities takes on added urgency when he befriends a local young man named Jake (ROMEO MILLER) who invested his father's church money with the firm only to lose it to the Ponzi scheme. To get back the funds, George eventually has to enlist Madea to take part in an elaborate bank ruse.

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits.

Can a movie be both underwritten and overwritten? Ladies and gents, I give you "Madea's Witness Protection," which might be the worst of the various films in which the writer-producer-director-actor dons the wig, house dress, and fat suit of his titular alter ego. And that's saying a lot! The film runs nearly two hours (it feels like three), and yet it still lacks an actual climax. It's a relief, of course, when this thing ends. But only a few of the plots and subplots that have been set up throughout the film are resolved or even acknowledged. And the title character is ultimately rewarded for basically committing the same crime that the film's main plot has been hinging on for the entire running time. Very strange!

Also strange is the fact that this isn't really a "Madea" movie, but a Eugene Levy movie. Levy stars as a disgraced CFO who unknowingly presided over a Ponzi scheme that bilked a dozen charities out of millions of dollars and laundered money for the New York mafia. He and his sitcom-ready dysfunctional family (a hot, young second wife; an elderly, senile mother; a snotty teenage daughter; and a pudgy teenage son) are forced to go into Madea's FBI safe house until trial.

Madea actually has a great point early in the film that is never adequately mined for comedy. How can she and her husband, Joe (also Perry, in bad old-age makeup) hide an all-white family in her all-black neighborhood? Then, late in the film, Perry the screenwriter rather lazily rips off a main plot thread from 1990's "Ghost" even acknowledging that he is doing so by having the characters watch the movie inside the movie. At that point, I felt like I was the victim of a scheme to bilk me of my money, folks. I give the film a 2 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed June 29, 2012 / Posted June 29, 2012


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