Sure, They Cloned Tyrone
could be listed among the aforementioned pieces of work, but it’s not just another “racism is scary, get it?” story. It draws on inspiration from the Blaxploitation era
to deliver a wild ride that can’t be simply categorised as one thing. It will have you laughing in one scene and blowing your mind in the next, your jaw on the floor while also agape with laughter. It’s unsettling and uplifting, joyful yet distressing. The film follows Fontaine (the always enigmatic John Boyega
), a drug dealer just trying to go about his day, a pimp named Slick (Jamie Foxx
at his very best) who’s got debts as long as his fur-lined leather trench, and sex worker Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris
) who is fed up with her life and the men controlling it. When Fontaine miraculously survives his own murder, the trio set out to solve the mysteries of their neighbourhood. Director and co-writer Juel Taylor weave a fantastical tale of friendship, adventure and mayhem while critiquing cultural appropriation, socioeconomic status, Blackness as a monolith, respectability politics, eurocentric beauty standards, and more. It’s ambitious, hilarious, and, at times, very weird. Like the conspiracy theories that proliferate in Black spaces
(barbershops, Black Twitter, back alleys, take your pick), They Cloned Tyone’s
strength lies in its contradictions and its absurdity.