All it took was Jamie Foxx — who plays a sassy pimp named Slick Charles, delivering lines like “Excuse me, kind sir — if you could point me to the elevator that leads down to the freaky laboratory, I’ll be out your atmosphere” — to sell me on Netflix’s hilarious new movie They Cloned Tyrone.
The fun, stylish, and refreshingly original directorial debut from Juel Taylor hits the streamer on July 21. Stylistically, the film is a mashup of everything from FX’s Atlanta to The Matrix and ’70s Blaxploitation comedy, and what’s especially nice to see for a Netflix movie is that it debuted this week with a perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
As far as what it’s all about, Taylor explained in a Netflix promotional interview that “I had this joke in my mind for a while, like ‘an entrepreneur, a pro, and a hustler walk into a bar and they end up solving a mystery.” The story revolves around a drug dealer named Fontaine, played by John Boyega, who encounters a bizarre mystery in his urban neighborhood and goes on a mission to bring it to light.
As the title suggests, the mystery looks to involve a lab engaged in cloning. Fontaine’s associates include Foxx’s Slick Charles, the aforementioned pimp who’s described as cunning and always a few steps ahead of the cops, as well as a sex worker named Yo-Yo (played by Teyonah Parris), and together they set out to get to the bottom of the mystery — how it works (the trailer suggests they start to suspect the local fast food joint, Got D*mn! Fried Chicken) and how to stop it.
With an exception or two this year, I haven’t really come across many non-documentary Netflix movies I’ve especially loved, which is why I’m so excited for the release of They Cloned Tyrone. From the writing and great cast to the throwback fashions and the needle drops everywhere from Fontaine’s car stereo to what’s bumped at the club, this is a movie crafted by filmmakers for whom the little things matter — and who are clearly trying to make sure the viewer is thoroughly entertained.
Continues Taylor: “Honestly, the primary goal, I just hope people enjoy it. The secondary goal, I hope people marinate on it and the next day they start going, ‘Wait a minute, what?’ And they start thinking about details, and weird moments, and things like that. But fundamentally, our first rule was just try to make it an enjoyable movie.”
The other thing that’s so easy to appreciate about They Cloned Tyrone is the fantastic world-building herein. Everything takes place in a typical-looking inner-city neighborhood called The Glen. There’s the fast-food joint mentioned above, the side-by-side establishments of Ree Ree’s Hair Salon and Ray Ray’s Barbershop; The Royal Motel; a club called The White Horse; The Greatest Mt. Zion Church of the Holy Ghost; and The Nefarious Underground Laboratory (every town’s got to have one, right?) with entry points that are available in the trap house, the church, and the local bodega.
You can read more about the week’s biggest and best new Netflix releases in our weekend coverage right here. For so many reasons, though, They Cloned Tyrone is at the top of the list for me.