Madea’s Witness Protection


With his creation Mabel “Madea” Simmons, here starring in her seventh film, Tyler Perry has built a franchise around barking disciplinarian, commonsense solutions to societal ills—and being that Madea looks like a linebacker in a circus-tent housedress, she can back her moral arbitration up. In Witness Protection, Madea’s wisdom is applied to no less a matter than the global financial crisis. CPO George Needleman (Eugene Levy) is greeted at the office one day by the sound of shredding documents, and the news that he has been made the fall guy in a giant Ponzi scheme with Mob ties. Taken into custody by the FBI, patsy George and his already imploding family are brought down to Atlanta by one Agent Simmons (Perry), where the white folks are conspicuously housed with Simmons’s Aunt Madea (Perry) and father, Joe (guess who?). A pleasingly heedless use of extravagant narrative contrivances teaches a lesson in miscegenation—we’re all family in America—and offers George an opportunity for redemption at a Sunday service. An agent of spiritual regeneration and showman, Perry’s dramaturgy is as subtle as a Bible-thump, but until a logy last act that has Levy disguised as a faux-Frenchman, his instincts are on-target here.