Madea’s Witness Protection
Madea’s Witness Protection (2012)
★★ / ★★★★
George (Eugene Levy) not only learned that Lockwise Industries, a company that various charities and the mob had invested in, was a part of a Ponzi scheme, he was going down with it because he was the chief financial officer. Brian (Tyler Perry), a federal prosecutor, was convinced of George’s innocence, who happened to agree to become a key witness against his former superiors, so Brian asked his aunt Madea (also played by Perry), for a fee, to hide George and his family until the case was over. $4000 a month was a lot of money so Madea just couldn’t refuse the opportunity. Written and directed by Tyler Perry, say what you will about the Madea films, “Madea’s Witness Protection” being one of them, although most of them could barely stand as a feature film, one couldn’t deny that a handful of their individual scenes are riotously funny. The strength of this picture could be found within the first and last thirty minutes, leaving the middle section with a deeply frustrating lack of comedic focus. Whenever Madea was not front and center being her sassy self and using all sorts of non-existent words (or mistaking words for that matter–see: Wi-Fi versus waffle), it was like watching a flower wilting right before our eyes. Especially a trial to watch and listen to was Levy’s performance. I wasn’t entirely sure if most of his lines were scripted or extemporaneous but what was apparent was his unending, too harsh of an attempt to be funny. He was always yelling at someone, I could feel my ears folding themselves inwards so they would no longer have to listen. Granted, his character was supposed to ooze frustration because he was essentially taking the fall for a scheme he had no knowledge of, but it did not excuse Levy from not injecting variation to his performance. Furthermore, the subplot involving Jake (Romeo) lacking the courage to tell his father that the money to be used to pay off the church’s debt was lost in the Ponzi scheme was simply not interesting. It seemed like Jake was only there to stir up trouble. What the picture needed more was Madea’s interactions with the family. One of the best scenes involved Madea’s utter horror when she discovered that the family Brian talked about was white. Because she was unable to express the full extent of her thoughts right in front of the family, that was pure gold because we had gotten accustomed to seeing her react in a certain boisterous way when she disagreed with a particular matter or situation. The little nuggets of tough love that Madea gave the family she was assigned to house, though extreme at times, had truths to them. I enjoy watching her because I recognize my perceived level of honesty and even downright brazenness in her that I don’t see reflected in a lot of comedies. Madea was at her most entertaining during a trip to New York City which began at the airport security. It made me consider that I wouldn’t mind seeing a movie about Madea simply going on vacation to a place that was completely foreign to her. I think many, whether they could admit it or not, would be able to relate on some level. If only the final thirty minutes was as hilarious as the rest of the film, most people wouldn’t be so dismissive or judgmental of this brand of comedy. “Madea’s Witness Protection,” in terms of its story’s flow, was at times crippled by missing scenes, especially during its flabby middle section. However, I did laugh quite a lot so it wasn’t half bad.