They Cloned Tyrone (2023)

by | Aug 6, 2023 | Movie Reviews, New On Streaming/Digital | 0 comments

They Cloned Tyrone is inventive and twisted science fiction that balances huge laughs with sociopolitical commentary centered around the black community! When I tell that you that I keep waiting for Netflix to surprise me, this is exactly the kind of proactive and expertly crafted film I was talking about. Director and co-writer Juel Taylor (writer of Creed II and Space Jam: A New Legacy) has tapped into a Spike Lee vein that’s fueled by genuine conversations about race, oppression, overcoming one’s conditions, and the way that the government always tries to keep people down. Why the governments would try to keep people down isn’t beyond me and hopefully others, as we know that they’ve spent decades keeping black and impoverished people from pulling themselves up and out. Cleverly, Taylor and his co-writer Tony Rettenmaier use our history and the best bits of SciFi to craft this terrific film.

They Cloned Tyrone

Set in the South in present day in a neighborhood called The Glen, the film follows Fontaine (John Boyega) as he attempts to stick to his strict business schedule. A drug dealer, Fontaine spends a large amount of his time tracking down people that owe him money and trying to get rid of rival operations moving in on his territory. After breaking the leg of one of his ops, Fontaine finds Pimp Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx) hiding out at a motel when his girl Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris) gives up his location. After collecting, Fontaine hops back in his car only to be run up on by his rivals and is shot dead on the spot for Slick Charles and others to see. Weirdly, Fontaine wakes up the next day in bed and starts setting out to run his errands, including picking up his money from a shocked and confused Slick Charles.

I’m not going any further with the plot, because the film’s title does enough to get your brain working and questioning what you’re going to be viewing. However, I will say that this was one of the most refreshing approaches to the Groundhog Day style of filmmaking and this film really has something to say in how it uses its Science Fiction tropes. For his first time directing, Juel Taylor has crafted something that lives and breathes like its from the 70’s, but still has modern sensibilities and current awareness for the world we live in. I’m not certain if it was, but the film looks like it was shot with actual film and that helps carry the feeling of the story well, immersing us in this place that’s seemingly exists in multiple times. Paired with some great music for the soundtrack, They Cloned Tyrone feels like it stepped out of a time machine that you want to go spend some time in yourself.

John Boyega leads the film a tough and soft-spoken Fontaine, offering little bits and pieces of his life and his struggles through the talks he has with the regulars in his community. He holds a lot of weight in the looks he gives, filled with a deep sorrow and a hatred for the world he has to live in. Boyega is such a versatile actor and to see him take on a tougher role here was really effective, especially when working opposite of Jamie Foxx’s Slick Charles. The two become entangled in this odd journey and Foxx’s delivery and his jokes are just unbelievable, breathing a whole new energy into the film but never cutting any of the severity of the story. The two go back and forth with some hysterical banter, sometimes even feeling intimidating as we see Boyega get more frustrated with their reality.

Teyonah Parris is having herself a great last couple years with her success in WanadaVision and the upcoming film The Marvels, but her talents have long predated the MCU with her works for Spike Lee, Barry Jenkins, and Jusitn Simien. She is an actress who projects so much confidence and security in herself that even when she’s playing this role of a hooker, she’s got more control over her own world and doesn’t take shit from anyone. She is the perfect wedge between Boyega and Foxx, finding moments of brave heroics and inappropriate comedy sprinkled all over for wonderful effect. This is an unlikely trio of characters who all work exceptionally well together and only strengthen an already great story, hammering home the most important bits with great effect. I was completely blown away by this film and couldn’t recommend it more!

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