They Cloned Tyrone Review: The Truth is Out There


Conspiracies, Control and Satirical Comedy are served up in ‘They Cloned Tyrone’

A Pimp, a Ho and a drug dealer walk into a hotel room…No this isn’t the start of an inappropriate filthy joke. This is the brand-new Netflix conspiracy sci fi comedy ‘They Cloned Tyrone’, written and directed by Juel Taylor

They Cloned Tyrone Review: The Truth is Out There 1

They Cloned Tyrone is part satire, part sci-fi comedy with a double scoop of conspiracy all wrapped up in a ‘hood’ Blaxploitation movie. So how does it all come together? For the most part quite well. John Boyega leads the cast as drug dealer Fontaine, doing all the usual things you’d expect a ‘Dope Boy’ to do. Dealing drugs, driving round collecting money, and fighting with rival drug gangs for territory.

When he is gunned down one night everyone is shocked to see him back on the streets the following day with no memory of the shooting. It’s not really much of a spoiler to say he discovers he is a Clone; I mean clone is in the title of the movie!

Unbelievably, this is just the start of the conspiracy which is a lot bigger and outlandish than they could have imagined. Joined by his friend ‘Slick Charles’, (1995’s pimp of the year) played by Jamie Foxx and Yoyo (Teyonah Parris), a sex worker with a Nancy drew obsession, they set about investigating this crazy conspiracy to discover just how far down this rabbit hole goes.

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They Cloned Tyrone – BTS – Jamie Foxx (Producer) as Slick Charles on the set of They Cloned Tyrone. Cr. Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2023.

The film takes a while to get going but once it does it’s a riotous ride down ‘Conspiracy Lane’. I get the feeling Jamie Foxx has a lot of fun in this role, as his pimp comes out with so many one liners, I’m betting some of them were improvised by Foxx himself. The movie excels when these three are together as the dynamics between them produces a special energy and keep things lively.

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I’m still not a fan of excessive ‘N’ word usage in any entertainment medium. It doesn’t matter if its reflective of the environment its portraying, I believe this just adds to its increased causal real-world use on the Internet. I could have done without hearing it every couple of scenes but that’s just my personal preference.

The aesthetics of the film feel like they are designed to throw us off slightly, leaving us wondering whether the time period is part of the conspiracy. Some parts of the neighbourhood feel like its set in the mid 90s, as does some of the clothing and music. But references to Bitcoin and modern tech like iPhones bring us right back to the present day. This could be to illustrate the ongoing nature of the conspiracy; it could be 20yrs ago or right now, it’s still happening.

I felt there were influences from so many places in this movie, from the 90s ‘hood’ movies to spooky X files episodes, combined with the ‘Big Brother is watching’ vibes of the Truman Show and the Matrix. The idea that we are on a hamster wheel, being watched and actually have little control over the world we are in rings true in this film as well.

Now all those films and TV shows I mentioned did it better of course, but they also have something else in common. They are all set in the 1990s, maybe that time period has a special significance for the writer/director Juel Taylor!

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The movie definitely has something to say, which is about the control and manipulation of marginalised communities, but it wraps it up in a fun silly over the top package. It’s almost as if it’s saying, ‘yes we put a message in there, but we don’t want you to focus on that, just enjoy the crazy adventure and have fun’.

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The film has many plot holes, implausible events and sci-fi elements that wouldn’t stand up to the most basic scrutiny. If this were some other movies, then I may be shaking my head. But this is done with such an innocence and charm, and with the great trio leading proceedings, I’ll forgive myself for overlooking these elements.

What were the other biggest movies of July 2023? Find out in ‘Most Wanted’ here
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They Cloned Tyrone – (L to R) John Boyega as Fontaine, Teyonah Parris as Yo-Yo and Jamie Foxx (Producer) as Slick Charles in They Cloned Tyrone. Cr. Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2023.

I do wish the writing and story were a lot tighter and the satire it attempts much sharper but that’s ok. They tried something new with this blend of genres and for the most part it works well. While it might not be a home run, it could easily be one we look back on in years and describe as a cult classic. Much like John Boyega’s first-time defending his neighbourhood from Aliens in ‘Attack the Block’, this is one we won’t forget anytime soon

They Cloned Tyrone is out now on Netflix. Watch the official trailer here

Jamie Foxx speaks for the first time since falling seriously ill

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