They Cloned Tyrone (Comedy, Sci-Fi) (2023)
Director: Juel Taylor
Writer: Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier
Stars: John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris, J. Alphonse Nicholson
In a poverty-stricken suburb, inexplicable events cause doubt in a trio of acquaintances. They combine forces, soon to discover there’s an underground complex hidden beneath their neighbourhood, cloning individuals and their goal is to put an end to it.
Premiering at the American Black Film Festival, later to be released on streaming services. ‘’They Cloned Tyrone’’ provides clever insight, in ways functioning as a Sci-Fi interpretation of genuine societal observations. Juel Taylor and Tony Rettenmaier wrote it as a homage to Blaxploitation films of the 1970s—while also inspired by others such as ‘’Napoleon Dynamite’’, ‘’They Live’’ and ‘’It Follows’’. It was filmed in Atlanta, Georgia, produced by MACRO Media and distributed by Netflix.
After a fatal event, Fontaine (John Boyega) returns to Slick (Jamie Foxx) a customer which he collected debts from the previous night. Slick, shocked by his sudden reappearance calls on Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris) who confirms Slick’s rightful confusion. They team up aiming to discover what’s truly happening unaware that a massive conspiracy is taking place underneath their neighbourhood of The Glen, cloning the inhabitants in a devious national plot.
Using film-noir stylings, Juel Taylor crafts a modern Blaxploitation film similar to Jordan Peele’s ‘’Get Out’’. Yet, instead of horror, it provides a natural comedic sci-fi spin. It’s well-defined with a focus on exaggerated period-specific characters, blending together near-seamlessly.
Providing a social commentary on poverty in neighbourhoods such as The Glen, and control from an unseen government It’s a critique, while exceptionally comical. ‘’They Cloned Tyrone’’ might seem genre-bending yet contained neatly within a sci-fi bubble with aforementioned noir tones. Linking it all together are B-movie aspects, clear observations similar to "They Live" with references to "Clockwork Orange". Truly a throwback to the past, mostly kooky with an air of self-seriousness.
Every melding of mystery, sci-fi and comedy fits, due to the screenwriting but certainly due to the cast of mystery solvers adding that twinge of B-movie magic. Whether it be the comic relief by Foxx’s Pimp, smarts and problem-solving by Parris’ street-walker or Boyega’s silent protagonist. The abundance of unadulterated character speaks for itself, the suburb and its recurring locations providing a groundedness in absurdity. Unexpected casting choices drive it further and Taylor’s proves to have a sincere understanding of itself, with near fourth-wall-breaking reflections of occurrences happening within The Glen.
During release, this was an unexpected summer hit for Netflix and while it can be overburdening in rare instances, for those fans of campy-natured films this is a modern noir fiction to check up on.
Clone Tyrone Again.