Monday, August 20, 2018
Movies

Tyler Perry's 'Madea's Witness Protection' probably for Tyler fans only

You know somewhere out there are parents who will see the cuddly CGI bear on the poster and take their kids to see Ted (R). The over-under on how many f-words from the plush toy's mouth it takes to send them scurrying to the exit is three.

Ted is the first feature film written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, the blithely demented mind behind Family Guy, American Dad and other animated sitcoms not for children. MacFarlane also voices the title character, a teddy bear magically brought to life by a child, who hangs around to disrupt adulthood.

Mark Wahlberg takes a break from smashing heads and producing HBO hits to play John Bennett, 35, who has continued clinging to his wisecracking, substance-abusing childhood playmate. John's girlfriend Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) thinks the arrested obsession is cute until it isn't. John must choose between raucous partying with a stuffed bear, and a world the rest of us live in.

Check the online red band trailer for Ted to get an inkling of what's in store: heavy drinking, dope smoking, hookers, nudity and creatively obscene dialogue — and that's just the bear. Ted wasn't screened in time for Weekend but a review will be published at tampabay.com/features and on Etc, Page 2B.

Guess how many times Tyler Perry plastered his name on the poster art for Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection (PG-13)? The eye-popping answer is seven, a display of self-aggrandizement not even Orson Welles would have attempted. Perry certainly admires himself, and has persuaded plenty of fans to join him in tribute.

Perry dons drag again as Madea, the back-talking matriarch of a Southern fried family, allowing Perry two more roles to play: Madea's suffering husband Joe, and her devoted nephew Brian. Credit where it's due: Perry bills himself only once on the poster as an actor.

Madea's slap-happy home is the last place anyone would expect to find a Jewish, white Wall Street investor linked to a Ponzi scheme. Therefore it is exactly where the FBI stashes George Needleman (Eugene Levy) and his nervous family, to keep his prosecution testimony safe. The premise is as grating as the double possessives in the movie's title, and already done by Larry the Cable Guy, if that tells you anything.

Like nearly all his movies, Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection was shown in advance only to critics likely to be kind.

People Like Us (PG-13) is this weekend's movie voted most likely to be considered worth waiting for home video, and then likely declined. Full disclosure: Only one person voted but I'm certain that I'm not alone.

Chris Pine (Star Trek) stars as Sam, a self-centered man who isn't concerned when the father he never connected with suddenly dies. The only reason Sam decides to attend the funeral in L.A. is to take a break from his legal woes in New York. Sam's mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) isn't thrilled to have him home, either. There's a last will and testament to be read, and it contains a surprise.

The father left $150,000 to an illegitimate daughter named Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), whom nobody knew about. Sam is charged with delivering it, which should be an easy task, but director Alex Kurtzman has two hours to fill. Sam won't tell Frankie who he is, or simply hand over the check and leave. Maybe Sam sympathizes with this recovering alcoholic and single mom, or forgetting he's related to this lovely woman, an impression unintentionally floated by the schmaltzy trailer.

People Like Us wasn't viewed in advance by a Times critic.

Steve Persall, Times movie critic

Steve Persall, Times movie critic

 
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