They Cloned Tyrone (2023) Movie Review – An entertaining mashup of absurdist humor and social satire

This entertaining mashup of absurdist humor and social satire is stylishly vibrant

The growing list of satires on the socio-economic foundations of communities yields another gem in the form of They Cloned Tyrone. The new Netflix film is a blast to watch. Directed by Juel Taylor, the film is a mashup between sci-fi, social realism, and absurdist humour. Conspiracy may be at the core of They Cloned Tyrone but it does not diminish the quality or authenticity of its broad themes.

This is Juel Taylor’s directorial debut and he hardly seems fazed by the prospect. The cinematic universe he has created is fearless, original, and thoroughly refreshing. He owns up to all decisions, validating his filmmaking process. This defiance of the norm is sometimes inspiring as the director refuses to be boxed in by any single genre. That being said, this sometimes results in a less-than-perfect film as the unevenness in the execution makes the movie’s three parts seem disconnected from each other.

The lack of cohesion does not become a barrier, however, as Juel and the writers don’t let it become one. The entire team function like they are on a collective mission to power through the inherent flaws in the narrative to put entertainment at the top of the priority list. The satire part is suggestive of the plot and the underpinnings of class and community amounting to something. The meaning isn’t contrived but it isn’t whole either, which might lead to a mixed reaction.

The plot revolves around three unusual business partners – Slick Charlies, a pimp, Yo Yo, a prostitute, and Fontaine, a drug dealer, played by Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris, and John Boyega respectively. Kiefer Sutherland also appears in a villainous role. The main trio live in a predominantly black neighbourhood that is a victim of moral decay. The vices that these three represent have facilitated the deterioration of the way of life, leading to a disconnected and discontent community. As the movie plays out, they uncover a raging and mind-boggling conspiracy that threatens to destabilize the area in which they live. 

They are shocked to find that some unknown corporation is pulling the strings to clone certain members of the community, including Slick Charles and Fontaine. The unnamed organization controls their life through every aspect – drinks, perm creams, and even music. Once they discover the underground lab, the trio decides to put an end to this powerplay and restore the balance to their neighbourhood. 

They Cloned Tyrone offers glimpses from modern works around the subject of “blaxploitation.” The movement started back in the ’70s but hasn’t taken off in the present century at the same pace or momentum. Taylor, however, gathers momentum from films like Sorry to Bother You and Get Out to create a compelling visual and narrative line that he tows right until the end. Certain story elements are also similar in all three movies. Its social credit is not as high but the style quotient is richer.

On the downside, the unconventionally long runtime feels burdensome at times. That is one of the biggest complaints from They Cloned Tyrone. A few of these instances saddle the storytelling with too much pressure and dullness. It makes you want to fast forward some portions because there isn’t a lot to be taken.

The dialogue delivery is quick-fire and fettered to native community speakers. At times, non-US viewers will find it difficult to follow and comprehend it. But it is a compromise that you must make to allow the magic to happen.

Thankfully, the central trio of performers are committed to Taylor’s vision. They are almost unrecognizable in the skin of their characters. Boyega may be typecast as an acerbic drug dealer but he ably carries a menacing look in the film. He is sort of the catalyst who kickstarts things but Parris and Foxx take over midway. They keep passing on the baton in the different parts seamlessly. Foxx is totally “Slick” in his dealings. He fits into the scheme of things like a hand in a glove, hardly showing any uneasiness adapting to his character.

They Cloned Tyrone is an ambitious film that challenges viewers with purpose and style. The acting is strong and almost every productional aspect from set design to costume and hair makeup, is picked and chosen to cater towards the director’s overall vision.

While the movie is not in the league of fast-cinema that Netflix has made so desirable, it has all the trappings of becoming a pop-culture revisionist phenomenon.


Read More: They Cloned Tyrone Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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