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Review: Netflix’s ‘They Cloned Tyrone’

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Have you heard of They Cloned Tyrone? I know I hadn’t until recently, but this science fiction comedy-mystery film has the makings to be one of the most unique projects from Netflix. Directed by Juel Taylor, with They Cloned Tyrone serving as his directorial debut, the screenplay by Taylor and Tony Rettenmaier explores one of the greatest conspiracies of our generation. Governmental experimentation on a disenfranchised population. What could border on a horror film for its real-world feel, They Cloned Tyrone explores through a critical lens with a satirical flare.

Leading the cast is John Boyega (Star Wars Episode 7-9), Jamie Foxx (Dream Girls, Spider-Man: No Way Home), and Teyonah Parris (Wandavision, The Marvels, Candyman). The trio, along with some other famous faces rounding out the supporting cast, create an enriched world full of hilarity and darkness in which viewers can get lost. So should They Cloned Tyrone be on your to-watch list? Read on to find out!

[Warning: Spoilers from Netflix’s They Cloned Tyrone are below]

The death of a drug dealer

Fontaine (John Boyega) is a drug dealer with a tragic backstory. His mother is a recluse, with both her and Fontaine mourning the death of his younger brother. Staying closed in her room, Fontaine is alone and lonely, grief eating away at him. Fontaine throws himself into his business of dealing drugs and getting his money.

It’s during this second role of his job that the narrative of They Cloned Tyrone really takes off. One night, while Fontaine is collecting money from one of his clients, a pimp called Slick (Jamie Foxx), he’s shot and left for dead in his car. So how does he wake up the next day in his bed with no memory of the previous night’s events?

Slick is shocked and confused when Fontaine returns that day for more money because he insists he saw the drug dealer die. A story that’s corroborated by Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris), one of Slick’s sex workers and the third individual in this “Scooby Gang.” Together, the three set off to get to the bottom of Fontaine’s resurrection, which leads to a bigger conspiracy happening in their neighborhood.

Seeing double and don’t eat the fried chicken in They Cloned Tyrone

Fontaine, Slick, and Yo-Yo piece together some of the overall mystery, without realizing what the bigger ramifications are yet. Their investigations lead them to a house with a laboratory under it, providing two important clues to what is going on in the Glen. The first is the discovery of a white substance, similar to cocaine, which caused increased joy and fits of laughing. The other is a dead body that looks exactly like Fontaine.

If that second discovery wasn’t enough of a shock for these three reluctant heroes, the fact that the substance is being used to control the people in the neighborhood sure is. So why exactly are there multiple Fointaines and why is this white substance being dispersed through the fried chicken at the local fast food place? There’s so much going on in They Cloned Tyrone, but these three are determined to find all the answers.

All the praise that They Cloned Tyrone deserves

It’s been a while since a film has so completely gobsmacked me, leaving I didn’t have thoughts as soon as the credits rolled. And yet They Cloned Tyrone did just that. I thought about this movie for days, unable to label the exact feeling it instilled in me. Though after sleeping on it, the word that finally came to mind was unsettled. They Cloned Tyrone felt like I was watching a story that at first I shouldn’t be seeing because it didn’t feel like it was a far stretch from our current reality.

Experimentation on Black people is something that has occurred throughout our nation’s past. The most notable example was the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which followed a group of African American men (nearly 400) infected with Syphilis. The goal of the study was to explore the effects of untreated Syphilis, even though treatment for this disease was available and also didn’t provide the individuals with informed consent.

They Cloned tyrone 2
Fontaine (John Boyega), Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris), and Slick (Jamie Foxx). They Cloned Tyrone (Netflix).

The film viewed this haunting treatment of a marginalized group through a satirical lens, allowing viewers to laugh along with the characters and feel unnerved at how realistic this story actually feels. Sure, human cloning doesn’t exist yet and as far as we know, substances that can control individuals don’t exist. That being said if both of these sciences were widely available, They Cloned Tyrone could easily be our reality. So that unsettling feeling is by design and elevates this film to one of my favorites.

Along with a great story and cinematography, the three main stars provided out-of-this-world performances. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as all three excel in the films and shows they are in. Of the three, Teyonah Parris and John Boyega were on another level. Their roles as Yo-Yo and Fontaine respectively are so unlike any of the other roles I’ve seen them in. 

I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen Boyega in anything except Star Wars, a role that I enjoyed him in. That being said, They Cloned Tyrone really shows just how talented he is. Boyega deserves every award that will hopefully be coming his way with this film. As well, Parris is as far as possible from her roles in Mad Men and Wandavision, but as Yo-Yo, she’s easily the best part of this film. Perhaps even her best role to date. Is it time to start the campaign to have Teyonah Parris in every film? I’ll make signs.

The use of colors in this film was exceptional as well. In a world filled with tons of neutrals, the striking shots of purples and yellows added a vibrance to the science fiction world in which They Cloned Tyrone inhabits. 

Final thoughts on They Cloned Tyrone

While I loved this film, I can easily recognize that They Cloned Tyrone may not be for everyone. The message is one that everyone should absorb, but the execution might not work for all. I love my mom, but she would be stressed by the amount of violence in the film. Perhaps this is part of the unsettled reality feeling of They Cloned Tyrone, but it may also be too much for some to handle. That being said, I personally cannot heap enough praise on this film. 

The message is timely and the delivery from story to acting is superb. It’s exactly the film we needed and the one we didn’t think to ask for. So if you have two hours and want a film that will leave you thinking, then definitely check out They Cloned Tyrone on Netflix.

They Cloned Tyrone is streaming now on Netflix! Have you watched it yet? Will you be checking it out soon? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 359 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson