Greater than the rest, They Cloned Tyrone — Netflix’s new conspiracy theory-minded, sci-fi comedy thriller from director Juel Taylor — needs to make you chuckle with its wild story a few secret group terrorizing an unsuspecting Black neighborhood from the shadows. However the film additionally needs you eager about what it’s you’re laughing at, precisely — its absurdity, its jokes, or the onerous realities behind the fantastical horror taking part in out on-screen.
Set virtually fully in an economically depressed however vibrant Black neighborhood someplace in America, They Cloned Tyrone tells the story of how dope seller Fontaine (John Boyega) unintentionally discovers an alarming reality concerning the place he’s known as residence for his total life. As a neighborhood from the Glen — the small chunk of city the place Fontaine pushes his merchandise whereas making an attempt to edge out rivals like Isaac (J. Alphonse Nicholson) — there’s little about his stomping grounds that he isn’t intimately aware of.
Fontaine is aware of precisely the place Isaac’s nook boys are normally posted up, similar to he is aware of that he can all the time depend on Biddy (Tamberla Perry) and the Glen’s different intercourse staff to cough up details about the place individuals are for the fitting value. Fontaine additionally is aware of that individuals like himself and Isaac — males who conduct their enterprise violently and with little consideration for the hardships different individuals are coping with — are a part of what makes the Glen a harmful place for youths like Junebug (Trayce Malachi) to develop up in.
However between Fontaine tragically dropping his youthful brother, financially supporting his shut-in mom, and having few different viable choices at his disposal, it makes much more sense from his perspective to make a residing promoting medicine to cash-strapped pimps like Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx) than making an attempt to work a 9-to-5.
Picture: Parrish Lewis / Netflix
Although They Cloned Tyrone’s actuality turns into exponentially extra heightened and outlandish because the film unfolds, Boyega brings a refined depth to his efficiency as Fontaine that instantly makes his difficult relationship with the Glen really feel actual.
Foxx’s Slick Charles — a classic hustler who’s properly conscious of how helpless he’d be with out ladies like Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris) who’ve labored for him — appears plucked out of time and feels simply shy of being a caricature. However when Fontaine involves shake Slick down for money, and Boyega will get to play straight man reverse Foxx tapping into all of his charisma whereas Parris steals the scene with one-liners about crypto and the blockchain, the three characters make an ideal type of sense in one another’s contexts.
The virtually cartoonish goofiness that’s current all through most of They Cloned Tyrone involves an abrupt halt early on when Fontaine’s all of a sudden murdered in chilly blood, with each Yo-Yo and Slick Charles witnessing the ordeal go down. However when Fontaine wakes up the following morning and begins going about his day — the exact same beats he hit the day earlier than — the film takes on a disquieting type of Groundhog Day-like high quality that works as an instance numerous fascinating concepts.
On one hand, They Cloned Tyrone’s a narrative about Fontaine, Yo-Yo, and Slick Charles realizing that somebody or one thing out there’s cloning folks from the Glen and getting down to study why. Nevertheless it’s additionally a narrative considerably within the fashion of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled or a few Black neighborhood reckoning with the methods wherein it’s surveilled and the way most of the structural challenges it faces are there by design.
Picture: Parrish Lewis / Netflix
As a result of the subject material that They Cloned Tyrone is speaking about — the which means behind the clones and the way in which that Fontaine feels existentially caught within the Glen — is so heavy, the movie’s Sorry to Hassle You-esque absurdity by no means precisely feels foolish. As an alternative, the jokes in Taylor and co-writer Tony Rettenmaier’s script really feel way more just like the form of humor that stems from having a deep understanding of how pernicious structural racism is and making gentle of it to maintain from being enraged.
As sturdy as They Cloned Tyrone’s first two-thirds are, its remaining act feels greater than just a little slapdash by way of the way it tries to tie up a number of plots with an bold set piece that entails virtually all the film’s gamers. However between its trio of rock-solid lead performances, impressed musical course from Philippe Pierre and Stephanie Diaz-Matos, and a intelligent finale that brings the entire thing residence, that bumpiness is a part of They Cloned Tyrone’s allure and all of the extra cause to offer it a watch.
They Cloned Tyrone additionally stars David Alan Grier, Kiefer Sutherland, Eric Robinson Jr., Leon Lamar, and Joshua Mikel. The film is now streaming on Netflix.