‘They Cloned Tyrone’ hit all the right buttons

In the Netflix film, “They Cloned Tyrone,”  a drug dealer, a pimp and a sex worker are asked to save the day. It’s good for humanity that they do. Even better news is seeing actor Jamie Foxx on the screen doing what he always does, and that comes up with quick-witted lines that stir up hysteria and bring that flair to the project that only he knows how to do.

Watching Foxx stir around with his irresistible charm and marvelous acting is a reminder to all of us what kind of talent he is and what he means to the entertainment industry. As he does in most of his films, the Academy Award winner (Ray), Foxx dives into his role as Slick Charles, who reluctantly gets pulled into rescuing mankind with the likes of Fontaine (John Boyega) and Yo-Yo (Teynoh Parris).

Billed as a comedy, sci-fi thriller, “They Cloned Tyrone,” takes a little from different genres of filmmaking in order to work. There’s a bit of “Get Out,” some elements of “Three the Hard Way (Jim Brown, Jim Kelly, and Fred Williamson),” and some pieces borrowed from the original “Shaft” and “Foxy Brown” in “They Cloned Tyrone.”

First, “They Cloned Tyrone” is a throwback to the Blaxploitation film days with all the cool Afros, leather pants, and wide-cut ankle pants. While Foxx’s character Slick Charles brings the charm and funny one-liners, Boyega as Fontaine, goes deep into his role as a no-nonsense hardened drug dealer who plays the lottery daily and does not fail to stop by the liquor store to get his 40-ounce of beer drink on.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Yo-Yo (Parris) seems at first to be an over-the-top whiner who has become dissatisfied working for Slick Charles. What brings the trio of Fontaine, Slick Charles and Yo-Yo together is a chain of events that takes place at the beginning of the film where the movie goes in and out that flickers with Fontaine getting snuffed out by a fellow drug dealer after he leaves the motel room of Slick Charles. This is where things get tricky.

One moment we see Fontaine getting gunned down by his rivals and the next moment he is waking up from dreaming that the fatal consequence to his mortality was just that: a dream. Fontaine’s dream gets shaken up when he pays Slick Charles a visit. Slick Charles (Foxx) freaks out that a man who he had seen get shot multiple times is now standing in front of him asking for money from his drug sales.

To bring more clarity to this situation, Slick Charles chases down Yo-Yo to convince Fontaine that he had indeed been shot. The intrigue on the thought that Slick Charles and Yo-Yo confer that he had been shot, perplexes Fontaine. The threesome then head over to get lunch from a popular fried chicken joint.

As the three would-be heroes discuss the reality of Fontaine’s existence, they can’t help but notice that all patrons in the restaurants are Black and they are all laughing hysterically. So, instead of gobbling the chicken themselves, Fontaine, Slick Charles, and Yo-Yo suddenly go inquisitive and wonder what’s happening around them.

Pretty soon, the three inexperienced sleuths embark on a journey where they eventually discover that The Man and The System are out to destroy the Black community using cloning as their weapon of choice to bring about this result. Much like what happens in real life, conspiracy theories run deep in “They Cloned Tyrone.” This is where the connection between this film and “Three the Hard Way” match up in similar ways.

In “Three the Hard Way (1974),” three friends (Brown, Kelly, and Williamson) join forces in order to take down a white supremacist group that strategically plans to wipe out the Black race by infecting the U.S. water supply. Like “Three the Hard Way,” “They Cloned Tyrone” is relying on triplets to be the heroes. The change-up in “They Cloned Tyrone” is that they added a female lead to co-star with Foxx and Boyega.

Parris is dynamic as the sexy starlet Yo-Yo who knows a thing or two about kicking butt. Parris more than holds her own alongside Foxx and the ultra-talented Boyega, sending many reminders of the legendary Pam Grier in her role. Grier was and is the queen of Blaxploitation films, rolling out hits such as “Coffy,” “Sheba, Baby,” and “Scream Blacula Scream.”

If some people think that scenarios played out in films like “Three the Hard Way” and “They Cloned Tyrone” are far-reaching, then they should check out their history books and read about the now infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study (The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male). “They Cloned Tyrone” is an excellent movie and for Black Americans, brings another reality check about the horrors that have been inflicted upon us as a collective body of people.


Dennis J. Freeman Written by:

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