They Cloned Tyrone

Directed By Juel Taylor

Starring – John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris

The Plot – An unlikely trio (Boyega, Foxx, Parris) investigates a series of eerie events, alerting them to a nefarious conspiracy lurking directly beneath their hood.

Rated R for pervasive language, violence, some sexual material and drug use

(64) They Cloned Tyrone | Official Trailer | Netflix – YouTube


If you thought 2017’s “Get Out” was a subersive look into a terrifying bigger picture with contemporary black relations, you haven’t seen anything yet. With an audaciously provocative debut from Juel Taylor in the director’s chair, which feels like an episode plucked directly from “Black Mirror”, “They Cloned Tyrone” is a richly-imaginative satirical spin towards dissecting black culture that feels genre-absolving, especially with an ambitious screenplay that feels like it belongs in its own category of creativity. Without revealing too much, this is one of those films that cerebrally taps into the many preconceived stereotypes of black culture, exploiting a deeper meaning and purpose within them, while fleshing out something truly terrifying in racially-fueled manifestation. As to where “Get Out” was something that felt only pertanent to black audiences, “They Cloned Tyrone” has an easily detectable connective tissue for all audiences that echoes the louder you know stereotypes, and with some avenues of exploration that takes this concept miles, produces no shortage of three-dimensional twists along the way that make this a must-see navigation. While I can’t say much about the script, I can say everything about the stylistic impulses of the presentation, seamlessly emulating a 70’s blacksploitation vibe with grainy-textured cinematography and a dominance of soul over the movie’s soundtrack and corresponding score that invites a groovy uniqueness to its contemporary setting, all the while furnishing an undivided naturalism that makes it feel directly plucked from that decade, instead of feeling like a film from today emulating that style. On top of this, the performances flourish with scene-stealing transformations, especially in the trio at the forefront of this story. John Boyega has been one of those actors that I’ve been preaching about repeatedly since his emotional turns in “Detroit” and “Breaking”, and here it’s more of the same, with the kind of heft in humanity that he supplants to each scene, even if his characters are anything but perfect in moral fiber. As for the other two, Teyonna Parris, more than holds her own against two male heavyweights, with a combination of infectious attitude and tough resiliency that allows her to stand among the all-time great heroines of the blackspolitation genre, and Jamie Foxx completely steals the show investing a pimp that affords him the same kind of comic perfection that made him one of the funniest actors in the world, in earlier roles. There’s also some surprising cameos littered casually throughout the duration of the experience, with each one inscribing something integral to the atmosphere they accompany. I won’t spoil anything, but keep your eyes on the priest in the church scene, or the primary antagonist of the film. Great stuff. Finally, much praise goes to the work of Taylor himself, primarily in his directing capacity, which effectively illustrates the fear, paranoia, and essence of black culture, as seen through the scope of a film that blends tones together so effortlessly. Considering this is a two hour film, it’s remarkable the kind of ranges in tonal shift that the material takes on, riding through comedic underlinings over the darkly dramatic, by way of science fiction. Typically, a film this scatterbrained in concept, tone and genre wouldn’t work in smooth execution, but Taylor feels fearlessly persistent in the beliefs of his approach, with the film feeling all the better for the invigorating sense of capture in the way that he sees a world still plagued by racial barriers. Taylor passionately invokes a sense of community to the proceedings that easily stands as the heart and soul of the engagement, and when combined with the existentialism debate that many questionable characters feel with the career choices and addictions of their own lives, cements a message of urgency to the audience to appreciate every breath.


A few key diminishing returns kept this from being among the year’s best, especially with regards to the pacing, which feels a bit tedious by the movie’s third act. Considering we the audience see and understand the complete picture by the film’s midway point, its sauntering to the finish line right before the climax dwindled some of the momentum and urgency of the narrative, leaving it feeling a bit padded by the two hour run time. Not to say that the material itself doesn’t have two hours of entertainment value, but I feel like the answers to the conflicts materialize a bit easy for the trio of protagonists than I would’ve wanted in a conflict so grand in scale. Doing so leaves the mystique and the momentum of the concept wasting away in paused purgatory, and in the case of its effect on the film, not feeling as hot with prominence as it did in the first half, where literally anything felt possible. On top of this, my only other problem with the film pertained to the antagonists, which constantly think five steps ahead of their opposition, but then feel conveniently irresponsible at just the right moments. Because these villains feel like the kind of people who have every step carefully planned for and thoroughly executed, some of the ways they’re outsmarted don’t exactly line up with logic, and because of such the eventual layer of convenience starts to set in with a climax that got a bit lazy for my taste. It does pleasantly lead to a bit of a surprise with the final resolution of the film, but does raise more questions than answers when the magnitude of the scheme is apparently the world’s greatest secret.

“They Cloned Tyrone” is a subversively smart and stylistically sleek science-fiction comedy that dissects stereotypes with the kind of satirical creativity that puts the ‘Black’ in “Black Mirror”. This thought-provoking directorial debut from Juel Taylor hits the hardest when it dissects cultural stereotypes, in part cementing something deeper and darker to the ages-old misconceptions that aren’t always responsibly attacked at surface level.

My Grade: 8/10 or B+

2 thoughts on “They Cloned Tyrone

  1. Man, this movie completely surprised me! It gives you a good mixture of comedy/sci-fi/mystery. Run time was perfect. Even when there were slow spots throughout the movie, they were able to pick it right back up and keep me glued in. Awesome review Chris!

  2. I did get a chance to check this one out last week and my thoughts are right there with yours. I think its been completely overshadowed by so many big theater releases when this is easily one of the best films of the year that went straight to streaming. Between the dynamic of the leading trio of actors, the sharp writing that constantly had me laughing out, and the layered commentary on systematic oppression/exploited classes, this is arguably one of the smartest movies of the year and easily one of the best directorial debutes. I do agree that if it wasn’t for the pacing that this would be even better, but I’d honestly put this in my top 20 of the year so far. Fantastic work, glad you got to check it out!

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