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They Cloned Tyrone


Mark 8

They Cloned Tyrone wears a cluster of influences on its sleeve (Get Out, The World’s End, Sorry to Bother You, and maybe, oddly enough, a touch of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father). Yet the film does not display any of these influences so strongly that it feels derivative or unoriginal.

While the opening act of the movie only shows us a single day in the lives of these characters—trade, pimp, berate, lounge, shakedown, shootout—it becomes clear very quickly that this is all stereotype and routine to them, a trap they exist in without much thought. What another movie might throw at the audience as a twist in the third act is instead handed directly to the audience with the movie’s title. This decision to deflate the main conceit of the setting allows the audience to simply accept it as a part of the story and focus more on the Why, preventing the What from becoming a distraction. (I’m looking at you, Sorry to Bother You.)

The acting is top-notch, especially from our leading trifecta. Everyone is appropriately hammy early on, clearly having fun playing into their clich├ęs, which might come across as legitimately ‘bad’ acting in the wrong movie. But once the plot thickens, the sudden transformation in the central cast’s performances pulls a cover of worry over the viewer. We care for them beyond their stereotypes. Two characters regularly make direct comparisons between their circumstances and real movies from the past sixty years. Their genre-savvy intuition brings a lot of fun out of the film’s mixture of influences. However, while we principally follow the central cast, the movie is actually about the crime-ridden, drug-addled ghetto in Everytown, USA, which becomes clearer as the story moves forward.

I do think the movie needed some more polish in editing. There are some roughly timed cuts between scenes, and nearly everything on the sound effect track seemed consistently out of sync by a quarter-second. Was it just my particular speaker setup doing this, or was it built into the movie? It was distracting, regardless. The soundtrack comprised a fantastic selection of bluesrocksoul, and, when scenes turned more unambiguously grim, the synthesized score was perfectly haunting. The artificial film grain was never convincing, but the addition of cigarette burns, as if we were in an old movie theater using actual film reels, was a nice touch.

Overall, They Cloned Tyrone successfully executes the sort of dark satire Jordan Peele’s movies don’t quite land for my liking, though this is less horror, more thriller. It is also a very self-aware blaxploitation, but not in the form of a movie like Black Dynamite. There’s a sharp self-seriousness right under the surface that succeeds in grounding the story’s sillier elements.