Movie Review: Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (2012)

Runtime: 1 hour, 54 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for crude sexual remarks and brief
drug references)
Director/writer: Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry, Doris Roberts, Eugene
Levy, Denise Richards
Since 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman where we were first introduced to Tyler Perry’s Madea character, Mabel “Madea” Simmons has been capturing a lot of hearts with her aged-acquired wisdom and hilariously cathartic anger problem—but also because of her Archie Bunker-style word butchery. But Madea’s Witness Protection may well deserve to be called Madea’s Witless Protection, at least for non-fans.

In this (the 8th) Madea movie, Perry again plays “Madea” and “Joe,” and now “Brian” while American Pie’s Eugene Levy plays “George Needleman,” CFO of a company called Lockwise Charities. When Needleman gets the rug pulled out from under him by co-worker “Walter” (an always charismatic Tom Arnold) and is left to answer on fraud and money laundering charges, his only hope to avoid prosecution on the one hand and the mob on the other is to stay hidden during the investigation.

When a chain of events places he and his wife (Denise Richards) and the rest of his troubled family in Madea’s house for several months, it isn’t long before Madea rubs off on everyone while the investigation continues. If the family doesn’t get found by the mob or killed by Madea first, the only question to answer is what will be the fate of Needleman? But here’s a bigger question: What will be the fate of this movie for Madea fans? Answer: It’s not a good fate.

This is partly because the Madea we get is less aggressive and less rambunctious than we are used to her being, and partly because the script is just not conducive to laughs. Without the household explosions to lead into progressively more dynamic humor, we have a movie that simply doesn’t stand out like it should.

Tyler Perry – undeniably one of the most talented and powerful forces in entertainment today – can take serious family issues and turn them into jaw-dropping comedy, but his thunderous, 6’5 honey is here wasted in a movie that doesn’t measure up to what we’ve gotten used to, despite some surprisingly devoted performances from Richards and Levy.

Fans might ought to give it a shot, but the laughs will prove too few and far between for most audiences.