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Madea's Witness Protection  (2012)
2 Stars
Directed by Tyler Perry.
Cast: Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy, Denise Richards, Romeo Miller, Doris Roberts, Tom Arnold, John Amos, Marla Gibbs, Danielle Campbell, Devan Leos.
2012 – 114 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for some crude sexual remarks and brief drug references).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, December 9, 2013.
For the first time, Tyler Perry's formula—one part broad-based comedy, one part sensationalistic and/or maudlin domestic melodrama—does away with its serious side and aims squarely for laughs with "Madea's Witness Protection." This one never feels as tonally erratic as many of the previous films starring Perry's on-screen alter ego of Madea, but it's also ceaselessly lightweight and more than a little forgettable. Eugene Levy (2012's "American Reunion") plays George Needleman, a Manhattan investment banker who gets into hot water when he discovers he's been framed for a Ponzi scheme which his company has been involved. Suddenly in grave danger, he and his family—younger wife Kate (Denise Richards), contentious teenage daughter Cindy (Danielle Campbell), Little Leaguer son Howie (Devan Leos), and daffy elderly mother Barbara (Doris Roberts)—go into hiding, traveling to Georgia to stay with Madea (Tyler Perry) and her crass brother, Joe (Perry, again). They are fish out of water in this predominately black community, but with Madea's unfiltered guidance and a can-most-definitely-miss plan aping upon a key set-piece from 1990's "Ghost" that finds Whoopi Goldberg heading to the bank to cash a check, the Needlemans might be able to settle their differences and clear George's name.

Any movie that finds a way to incorporate the classic aforementioned bank scene from "Ghost" into its narrative cannot be all bad, and "Madea's Witness Protection" certainly has its moments. Perry's Madea character is the full-on lead here (usually she is a supporting player), and it is still amusing whenever she must actively stop herself from busting kids in the mouth for disrespecting their elders. What isn't so convincing is the plot proper, with the Needleman family throughline about as weighty as a feather and as convincing as Eugene Levy actually being married to Denise Richards (2003's "Scary Movie 3"). A subplot involving Jake's (Romeo Miller) failed attempt to rob Madea as a means of paying his ailing pastor father's church mortgage fund is tacked-on in the extreme; it could have been cut entirely with no bearing on the other 90 minutes of the running time. "Madea's Witness Protection" is unambitious and evaporates almost as rapidly as it plays out, but at least it knows what it is and only has one aim: to divert viewers for two hours.
© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman