Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection [2012]

MPAA (PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing -

Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection, written, directed and staring in no less than three roles Tyler Perry [IMDb], presents his take on the 4 year old financial crisis that our country finds itself in (the worst since the Great Depression) through the eyes of his increasingly famous character, the no nonsense Madea [IMDb] (played by Tyler Perry).

The movie begins with conscientious George Needleman (played by Eugene Levy) an accountant at a New York investment firm, who's found himself doing surprisingly well at his job in recent years, once again "putting his job first," and traveling from his spacious New York suburban home down to the city on a Saturday "to do some paperwork" rather than "go to the game" of his amiable but somewhat chubby and not particularly athletic son Howie (played by Devan Leos).  Indeed, as he leaves home, his probably inappropriately young for his age second wife Kate (played by Denise Richards) and 15 year old daughter from his first marriage Cindy (played by Danielle Campbell) are both (though for somewhat differing reasons) angry at him for "once again abandoning the family" to go back to work.  Sigh ... but at least he's doing "good work" and he's doing it actually "for the family ... if they only knew."

Well, he comes to the office and finds EVERYBODY there shredding everything in sight.  What happened?  George's boss tells him ... "I've never really told you, but what we've been doing here is running a gigantic Ponzi scheme for the last five years, and the Feds are coming to shut us down." "But how could that be?  I've been CFO here for the last 5 years.  Shouldn't I have noticed something?"  "That's great!  That's why we've always loved you!  Could you say that louder and into my microphone please?"  (He does).  Turns out that George Needleman was promoted way above his capacity over those last several years, PRECISELY so that he could be the company's fall-guy when the scheme was uncovered.

Switch to Altanta.  Heavy-set recently retired Madea is carrying a few bags of groceries out of the store when she's attacked by a young masked "thug" (who has no idea what he's up against) demanding that she give him her money.  She answers "No way!  Now I'm going to tell you son, do yourself a favor, GO GET A JOB!" "But I have a gun!" "Son, I spent years and years working to finally get this Social Security to be (spits to the side) on a 'fixed income.'  So there's no way I'm gonna give it to a puny thug like you with a puny gun.  Get yourself a job!" "This is my last warning!" "No, this is my last warning!"  Much then ensues over the next couple of minutes.  In the end, the masked thug scared for his life gives up.  And he's revealed to be Madea's own nephew Jake (played by Romeo Matthew).  What the heck just happened?

Well, Jake, Madea's nephew and son of a Baptist Minister, Pastor Nelson (played by John Amos), had been entrusted by his church to invest the church's money wisely so that it could pay-off its mortgage faster.  Where did Jake put the money?  Well in the best mutual fund that he could find ... the one run by Needleman's firm, the one that turned out to be a Ponzi scheme.  So Jake, who had previous encounters with the law, and had been so grateful to his father and his father's church to be given "another chance" had lost all the church's money and was scared to death what they'd do to him, and more to the point that the news would "just crush" his dad.  Yes, the Bernie Madoff scandal that came to fore (and was also an elaborate Ponzi scheme) hurt a lot of charities and churches that trusted Bernie Madoff's firm with their money.

Okay, it turns out that another nephew of Madea's, Brian (played by Tyler Perry) an assistant federal prosecutor in Atlanta is put in charge of investigating Needleman's firm on behalf of a number of the churches and charities that lost their investments on account of that firm's malfeasance.  Prosecutors also understand that the firm possibly working as a front for the mob.  So when he talks to the very nervous/distraught Needleman, he realizes that he has to offer him and his family protection.  How?  By hiding them with Madea and her husband.  Who'd think of looking for a timid white-collar accountant and his family (all from New York) "in the hood" in Atlanta?  Much ensues ... ;-)

Of course everything turns out well.  Among the many things that are very nice about this film  -- Denise Richard's character Kate turns out to be more than just a "trophy wife" but a really nice person, Madea in her trademark way is able to knock some sense into the kids and make them more appreciate their parents -- is how Jake's father's Baptist Church is portrayed in the film and the Needleman family's relationship with it.  They don't mock it.  Instead, they go there and meet a lot of very nice people (yes, who are in great part AFRICAN AMERICAN / BLACK).  And indeed, Needleman finds how to "connect the dots" in his firm's Ponzi scheme while once being at one of their services.

This is the third Tyler Perry [IMDb] movie that I've reviewed on this blog.  And I do have to say that I've liked what I've seen.  In this film again, he is "kind/merciful" to the "big shots."  Indeed, Tyler Perry himself in real life is media mogul.  But he is also unflinching in showing the effect of malfeasance of some of the "big shots" on a lot of "smaller people" who had depended on them.

In one scene in the film, Asst Federal Prosecutor Brian is going through with Needleman some of the charities that Needleman's firm had hurt: "Look, these are charities that had been building wells in Africa, vaccinating kids, providing community services for the elderly and youth otherwise at risk.  You hurt them by, what you say, 'not paying attention.'  You're gonna have to help me, help make this right..."

Good job Tyler Perry, good job ...

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