Watch Of The Week: They Cloned Tyrone

Screenwriter Juel Taylor makes his feature directing debut with his own co-written script; it’s an odd, slightly baffling, but likeable piece of work. It’s a conspiracy mysterycomedy that starts out as a neo-blaxploitation romp or super smart satire on race and white privilege that you might compare with Get Out or Sorry to Bother You.

But then it broadens into something sillier and goofier, almost a kids’ movie. I can imagine it building a cult fanbase by being shown every Christmas Eve on TV, and it’s certainly got three powerhouse performances from Teyonah Parris, Jamie Foxx and John Boyega. The scene is a deprived African American neighbourhood where people listlessly drink certain branded types of what appear to be alcoholic soda, munch down fried chicken and use chemicals on their hair.

Tyrone (Boyega) is a drug dealer who is discontented at a rival player moving in on his turf and also annoyed at money owed to him by notorious pompadoured pimp Slick Charles. Slick is played by Foxx, and is always complaining about the ungrateful, unreliable women he’s exploiting. His main earner is the wisecracking Yo-Yo, played with whipsmart presence by Parris. After Tyrone is fatally gunned down outside the motel that Charles habitually uses as his HQ, he is astonished to see Tyrone alive and well the next day, apparently unaware of the shooting incident. Charles, Yo-Yo and this new Tyrone team up to solve the mystery and discover the existence of something very strange underground, which has something to do with Tyrone being cloned.

Until the discovery, the movie is tough and intimidatingly violent and callous in its realism. Then it becomes a wacky adventure. Yo-Yo turns out to be a huge fan of Nancy Drew mysteries and gleefully gets involved in the detective work because that’s what her heroine Nancy would have wanted. She even manages to open the back door of a van, just as Nancy would do it. I’m unsure if Juel intended to make Yo-Yo a Nancy Drew fan or that he simply realised at some rewrite stage that the trio’s adventures looked like Nancy Drew, and he needed to pre-empt that.

But it’s amusing just the same. As for the high concept, it is very weird: especially as it is, frankly, not very obvious why the evil controllers particularly need to clone anyone, as this clone-replacement leads so easily to the denouement. But it all bounces along amiably enough due to the high-octane work of Boyega, Foxx and Parris. Perhaps they deserve to be in a more serious film or in a comedy that was skewed more toward grownups. Well, it’s a film with its own peculiarly unexpected innocence and charm. They cloned Tyrone is now on Netflix.

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Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

About Author / Boluwatife Adesina

Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

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