Film Review: THEY CLONED TYRONE (2023): Juel Taylor’s Well-Acted Science Fiction Film is Bizarre but Very Watchable

John Boyega Teyonah Parris Jamie Foxx They Cloned Tyrone

They Cloned Tyrone Review

They Cloned Tyrone (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Juel Taylor, written by Tony Rettenmaier and Juel Taylor and starring John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris, Kiefer Sutherland, David Alan Grier, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Tamberla Perry, Eric B. Robinson Jr., Trayce Malachi, Leon Lamar, Joshua Mikel, Ryan Dinning, Swift Rice, Megan Sousa, Charity Jordan, Austin Freeman and David Shae.

They Cloned Tyrone is director Juel Taylor’s intriguing science fiction movie about a bizarre series of events occurring in a neighborhood called the Glen where drugs and sex are sold by ordinary people in order to make ends meet. While comparisons to movies like 2018’s slightly superior Sorry to Bother You are inevitable, Taylor’s movie gives off original vibes of its own that makes it interesting to watch even though it leads peculiar places that aren’t always satisfying in terms of the way the plot develops.

The movie opens with the young kid JuneBug (a stand-out Trayce Malachi) hilariously comparing the lead character of the new film to the animated lead character from Spongebob Squarepants. Fontaine (John Boyega) is a Black drug dealer who does what he has to do to make a living. His mom seems aloof and Fontaine has to survive any way possible. Slick Charles (a charismatic Jamie Foxx) is a pimp who owes Fontaine some cash. We also meet Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris), a prostitute who turns tricks for survival. Yo-Yo is trying to get away from the annoying Slick Charles at the start. Soon, another dealer named Isaac (J. Alphonse Nicholson) shoots and supposedly kills Fontaine. When Fontaine returns shortly thereafter to get the rest of his money from Slick Charles, the movie’s plot starts to get tricky as it appears Fontaine is not exactly dead.

In short order, Fontaine, Yo-Yo and Slick Charles start to become suspicious of a van. They begin to uncover something of a conspiracy. A white powder starts making people laugh uncontrollably. The local chicken fast food joint has such an ingredient in the chicken it is serving. Yo-Yo gets close to the manager of the restaurant and when he isn’t looking, she starts uncovering some very intriguing information.

Meanwhile, every day, Fontaine encounters a bum as Fontaine walks away from the convenience store with a scratch off lottery ticket which is always a loser. The homeless man helps lead our fearless trio to find out more than they wanted to know as clones of people in the neighborhood like themselves are being commissioned for a very disturbing reason.

Enter a warped scientist named Nixon (Kiefer Sutherland) who shows up to further explain the reasons things are happening as they are. It’s not a pretty picture and the experiments being conducted will frighteningly make  an uncomfortable reality sink in for our lead characters. Nixon wants our heroes to stand down before things get even uglier. All this action culminates in a bunch of naked clones running past a check cashing place in a wild scenario that will keep your attention on the very detailed logistics of the all-too-scary-to-think-about plot.

John Boyega is in fine form as the duped Fontaine. Jamie Foxx is his usual self in a performance that is a bit over-the-top at times and a little restrained at others. It is Teyonah Parris as Yo-Yo, however, who leaves the greatest impression of the central cast members. There is a scene where she discusses the reality she wanted versus the reality she got which rings completely true. Yo-Yo may be stuck in a rut but she’s fierce, brave and determined and will do what she has to in order to try to change the unfortunate situation she has found herself immersed in. Parris emerges from this film as its most valuable player.

Government conspiracy films are always intriguing but are rarely fully satisfying because they must conform to the standards of a Hollywood movie in the end in order to sugarcoat the complexity of the premises they portray. The same is the case for They Cloned Tyrone. The picture feels like it could have explored more than it does. It’s fun to watch and can stir up some thoughts about how experiments could be done right in our very own hometowns but at the end of the day, the food for thought is too disturbing which is why this film chooses to include way too much comic relief. The premise is science fiction, for sure, but it’s also strangely believable at times. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. However, certain plot points are simply too clever and too pat for their own good.

But, never mind. They Cloned Tyrone is going to be a nice hit for Netflix because it will captivate the viewer with its twisted “The Twilight Zone”-like premise. Foxx, Sutherland and Boyega may get some of the movie’s best lines but it is ultimately Parris who is at the heart of the movie with her tremendous appeal as an actress. She carries the film towards victory making it well worth checking out.

Rating: 7/10

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