25 Aug 2013: Madea’s Witness Protection Program (DVD, 2012, Tyler Perry)
Too much on the minstrelly side, but not quite terrible. People respond to broad humor, but this leans too much on idiocy, buffoonery (e.g. white people poorly imitating black speak, again), stereotypes, and racial bias in making white supporting characters (TSA screeners, hotel clerks) the straight men to uncontained black caricatures. Whites are wacky and dysfunctional too – e.g. the entire family being “protected” – but their dysfunction consists of universal emotional problems as opposed to the irreverent ignorance and endless mispronunciations of their hosts. Notable assets to this film as opposed to a lot of contemporary mainstream fare is the generosity with long takes, where most conversations are allowed to play out through lengthy, relatively sparsely cut takes of dialogue and behavior – this especially useful for allowing for the often much more animated and engaging speech of African-American dialects (none of the BS action-movie economy of words delivered flat and expressionless because they mean nothing). Characters are husks or cartoons or inconsistent – like the young son tasked with managing the church’s fundraising money who is obviously responsible enough to be so entrusted yet also somehow stupid and crazy enough to try to rob his relative at gunpoint for a dollar – so it’s hard to really care about them, or even really to think they’re worth watching.