by Tim Gordon
When an embattled CFO discovers that he is about to take the fall for a crime he didn’t commit and with the Mob on his heels, he goes into hiding at the last place anyone would look for him in Madea’s Witness Protection.
On the surface, George Needleman (Eugene Levy) is a successful CFO of a thriving company but things on the homefront are rocky. Married to a younger second wife (Denise Richards), his two children (Danielle Campbell and Devan Leos) are both suffering growing pains with one constantly disrespecting her “stepmom,” and the other feeling neglected due to the lack of attention from his father. In addition, his mother (Doris Roberts), also living with him, appears to be suffering from dementia.
When Needleman goes in to office for some quick work, he discovers a shred party that would make Watergate proud. His co-worker, Walter (Tom Arnold) informs him that news will surface of the company’s involvement in a massive Ponzi scheme and the clueless Needleman is the fall guy. To make matters worse, the scheme also laundered money for the Mob. Facing jail or death from the Wiseguys, Needleman elects to relocate his family into witness protection.
Just as it appears that it couldn’t get worse, the family finds themselves on the doorstep of the feisty Mabel “Madea” Simmons (Perry) who in no time proceeds to whip the dysfunctional family into shape. Exerting her own special brand of “tough southern love,” Madea teaches each of them lessons that help bring the family together and they begin to love and appreciate each other.
While the family dynamics are slowing evolving in Madea’s house, a young man (Romeo Miller) entrusted to invest the savings for his father’s (John Amos) church is livid when he discovers that they too were lost in Needleman’s scheme. After a heated confrontation, the two work together, using Whoopi Goldberg’s character from Ghost as inspiration, to get the money back.
Perry’s 14th film and seventh Madea story, finds him attempting to broaden the character by taking her to the big city. The film plays like a well-worn comedy act where a comedian would point out that “Black people do this, White people do that.” There’s a silly subplot where one character discovers that years earlier they may have been involved an illicit affair as well as tons of unfunny cultural jokes spotlighting the differences in the races that continually miss the mark.
The first Madea film not adapted from a play finds Perry confidently appealing to his core audience, who enjoy the character’s down-home earthiness, unpredictable volatile manner and unique accent and phraseology. Giving the people what they want may be profitable but simple entertainment can only take you so far. If this character appeals to you, then this is YOUR story. If not, you’ll wish it was YOU in hiding!