In this week's See This Not That, we have two films featuring main characters who accidentally get involved in a little something they shouldn't have. In one corner, we have "Witness," starring Harrison Ford as a cop who goes undercover among the Amish to protect, well, a witness. In the other, we have Tyler Perry revisiting his character Madea, who harbors a clueless money launderer (played by Eugene Levy) and his uptight New York family, in "Madea's Witness Protection." So, which one should you see?
Surprise! The winner here is most certainly Peter Weir's Academy Award-winning "Witness." In this highly acclaimed thriller, a young Amish boy (good ol' Lukas Haas) witnesses a murder, and it's up to Ford as the cop assigned to his case to go undercover to protect him and his mother (Kelly McGillis) from the men who may be looking to tie up their loose ends. The film is Weir's second best-reviewed movie, eternally holding on to a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for eight Oscars, seven BAFTAs and six Golden Globes.
"Witness" was praised for succeeding as a taught cop thriller, its look inside the Amish community and its nearly perfect screenplay. "Witness" netted Ford his only Oscar nomination to this day for what some consider his finest performance. (For those wondering, he lost to William Hurt in "Kiss of the Spider Woman.") "Witness" is an absolute classic, and one you should throw on your Netflix queue immediately.
Not "Madea's Witness Protection"
This 2012 comedy hitting shelves this week is the seventh in Tyler Perry's insanely lucrative Madea franchise. The film attempts to be relevant by centering on an unwitting money launderer, George Needleman (Levy), who takes refuge at Madea's house with his family. Yes, a Ponzi scheme would totally be relevant -- if it was still 2008.
Naturally, the answer to George's mob problem is hiding out at Madea's house, 'cause that seems completely plausible. Like "Witness," this also plays with the fish-out-of-water trope as George and his spoiled, annoying family, including his improbably hot wife played by Denise Richards, invade Madea's house. Ultimately, everyone learns to relate to each other and all of the legal problems are solved. Hooray! Although the movie was poorly reviewed, the critics who had nice things to say call it Perry's best. The ones who didn't like it, however, tossed around words like tired, cynical, unremarkable, slumming, half-hearted and light on the laughs. But it made its money back threefold, so good for you, Tyler Perry.