A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Madea's Witness Protection -- part of Tyler Perry's popular, long-running Madea franchise -- serves up more of what audiences have come to expect from the series: a righteous Madea putting people in their place. This time it's a Bernie Madoff-like character (only he doesn't know anything about the crime and was just set up) and his family, who have to hide in Madea's Atlanta house for safety. Expect some light cursing (mostly "hell" and "damn"), some sexual references/innuendoes (mostly about strippers and body parts), a few slaps, and plenty of exhortations about the right way to behave.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In TYLER PERRY'S MADEA'S WITNESS PROTECTION, George Needleman (Eugene Levy) thought he was successful as CFO of the charity arm of Lockwise Industries, a Wall Street investment bank. But then he discovers that his firm is actually a Ponzi scheme and Mafia money laundering unit. He can either be killed by the Mob or make restitution with the help of a well-meaning district attorney (Tyler Perry). But first, George needs a place to hide while he works with the government to catch the bad guys. And what better place to disappear than at the mighty Madea's (Perry) house, where the Needleman family's big-city ways won't make the cut?
Is it any good?
No disrespect to the (usually) formidable Madea, but she seems to be losing her touch. She has less fire in her belly; her diatribes aren't as disarming or funny. (Though fans will be glad for a few of them, especially an initial one she unleashes on a poor soul who tries to rob her in her car.) A teenage girl who's quite nasty to her parents, especially her step-mother, is upbraided in a fairly tame and passive-aggressive, roundabout way, when a full-on righteous tongue-lashing would have been more audience-pleasing. Could it be that Madea has softened with age? Or is Tyler Perry tiring of his muse? (We're not even getting into Madea's Witness Protection's weak script or the wasted potential of the New York banker-in-relocated-down-South setup.)
The beauty of Madea is that she says what she thinks, so when she doesn't, we're left unsatisfied, wondering what's holding her back. It also takes much too long to get a glimpse of the film's headliner as the Ponzi scheme storyline is explained. Levy is predictably hilarious, and watching his character and Madea reference a Whoopi Goldberg-in-Ghost moment is gold. But not much else is.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Madea is a role model in Madea's Witness Protection, if she indulges in some rude behavior (primarily screaming and threats of bodily harm) herself. Does it matter that what she's doing is played for laughs?
Talk about Madea's message about the youth of today and their sense of entitlement. Is she right?
Parents, talk to your kids about the crime at the heart of this plot and what it might have been influenced by.
- In theaters: June 29, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: October 23, 2012
- Cast: Denise Richards, Doris Roberts, Eugene Levy, Tyler Perry
- Director: Tyler Perry
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some crude sexual remarks and brief drug references
- Last updated: April 23, 2020
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