Flix at :48: They Cloned Tyrone
I normally don't like surprises, because they usually mean something bad or disappointing is about to happen. But once in a while, I'm can be pleasant. And who recently reminded me this but Netflix (of all places), which released the film They Cloned Tyrone a few weeks ago.
Directed by Juel Taylor, who has never worked on a feature length film before as the sole director, They Cloned Tyrone is
from an original screenplay co-written by Juel Taylor and Tony
Rettenmaier. And this original screenplay is an energizing, funny story.
When a drug dealer (John Boyega, The Woman King, 2022); a hooker (Teyonah Parris, Candyman, 2021); and her pimp (Jamie Foxx, Spider-Man: No Way Home, 2021) discover an elevator leading to an underground laboratory in their poor, broken down neighborhood, they uncover a government conspiracy of surveillance, mind control and clones.
But how do you bring down a huge government operation when you're part of such a Black, and forgotten, part of the country?
They Cloned Tyrone is a snappy, humorous, science-fiction mystery that feels like The X-Files (1993 - 2002) meets Boyz n the Hood (1991) meets Black Dynamite (2009).
The actors Teyonah Parris and Jamie Foxx are the most entertaining parts of this film, because their comedic timing is hotter than a bucket of freshly fried chicken. (I'm using this comparison to purposely hint at one of this film's important scenes.) All of their line deliveries have so much spice, I couldn't wait to see what they would say next.
Keep in mind this film is not for kids. It's very rated R due to adult
language and drug references. The success of this film's funny writing is made by realistically creating the speedy style of urban, African American, slum vernacular and combining it with nerdy, scientific jargon about nutrition, blood, and experimentation.
This blending of film genres, and of dialogue styles, reminds me of another terrific science-fiction comedy called Attack the Block (2011) which also stars John Boyega.
The social commentary of They Cloned Tyrone is not revolutionary or amazingly fresh. We all know institutional oppression of racial minorities is not a new topic. It has been repeated by many other films before.
But They Cloned Tyrone adds a dark wittiness to this social commentary by placing the story in quintessentially Black settings of a hair salon, a fast food restaurant, and a convenience store. All familiar places but ones that are given a nefarious twist which helps this film feel more clever than expected.
I'm hoping Netflix, and all other streaming platforms out there, are ready to invest in films like this that have a pulpy grit and wonderfully three-dimensional performances. A few surprises will pop up in this film that make They Cloned Tyrone even more fun.
Maybe surprises aren't always so bad after all.