Between They Cloned Tyrone and the Barbie movie, a number of films have recently releasing that include a fair amount of social commentary. While Barbie focused on the patriarchy and empowering women, They Cloned Tyrone takes on race relations between White and Black Americans. With a heavy Blaxploitation influence, They Cloned Tyrone is a big step up for the average Netflix movie.
They Cloned Tyrone follows Fontaine (John Boyega), a local drug dealer, as he goes about his daily life in a relatively low income community. He engages with Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx), the resident pimp, and one of his employees, Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris). When they uncover a mysterious government conspiracy, the resulting revelations have a deep and binding impact on Black people across the US.
The cast of They Cloned Tyrone should be commended for their ability to truly blend into their roles. You’d never know this drug dealer is the same person who played Finn in Star Wars, or that Marvel’s Monica Rambeau has a bit of a wild streak, but they’re very convincing. While he only has a small role, David Alan Grier is almost unrecognizable as the local preacher.
If it wasn’t blatantly clear from the title, They Cloned Tyrone is aimed squarely at African Americans. The filmmakers have said they were channeling Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, and they were very successful. The film doesn’t get quite as campy or over the top as some of those classic movies, but it feels very much like a modern take on the genre. It goes just far enough down that rabbit hole, without getting lost in the process.
Unlike the somewhat recent Shaft films, They Cloned Tyrone leans into the ridiculous nature of the plot, and has a ton of fun doing so. Not every joke lands, and if you’re not a fan of ethnic comedies there may not be much to enjoy here, but the film knows exactly who the audience is. It leans heavy into stereotypes, conspiracy theory, and ridiculous shenanigans.
The social commentary from writer and director, Juel Taylor, is also loud and clear. Black Americans are still being systematically oppressed. What They Cloned Tyrone does better than films with similar ideals and social commentary, is that the message isn’t so heavy-handed that the audience is sick of hearing it by the time the credits roll. Instead, there’s a proper balance between Blaxploitation, general humor, social commentary, and the over the top nature of the plot.
Netflix has a bit of a reputation. Original series on Netflix are almost always top notch. However, original movies tend to feel more like the direct to DVD films of old, or even a Lifetime movie of the week. There’s plenty of star power in most Netflix movies, but the writing is atrocious more often than not. They Cloned Tyrone isn’t perfect, but it’s a clear break from this trend, and is easily one of the best movies Netflix has released in a very long time.
About They Cloned Tyrone
Synopsis: A series of eerie events thrusts an unlikely trio onto the trail of a nefarious government conspiracy in this pulpy mystery caper.
Director: Huel Taylor
Writers: Tony Rettenmaier, Juel Taylor
Stars: John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris
Runtime: 2 Hours, 2 Minutes
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.