In the saturated landscape of today’s audio-visual media, several titles often get forgotten in no time. Their short shelf-life is often a result of their lack of originality. However, that is not the case with Juel Taylor’s ‘They Cloned Tyrone’, which recently became available on Netflix. Before its release on the streaming giant, the film premiered at the American Black Film Festival and then found a limited theatrical release. It received widely positive reviews from critics, who praised the film’s ingenious mix of humour and socially-conscious writing, besides the outstanding acting performances.
The film is a brilliant amalgamation of several genres from Blaxploitation to science fiction, from thriller to comedy, from mystery to a relevant drama. It stars John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, and Jamie Fox in the central roles, who play an unlikely trio of a drug dealer, a sex worker, and a pimp. While these three eventually uncover a government cloning conspiracy, the script explores the themes of racism and assimilation in the US. Besides them, the film also stars Kiefer Sutherland, David Alan Grier, and J. Alphonse Nicholson in crucial roles.
If you liked this fantastic blend of genres and want to watch something similar, there is no need to worry! Here’s a list of movies that you should try if you liked ‘They Cloned Tyrone’ on Netflix:
1. Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Boots Riley’s ‘Sorry to Bother You’ is a surrealist black comedy film that premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. It stars LaKeith Stanfield in the lead role, playing a young, black telemarketer, who adopts a white accent to succeed at his job. Through his journey, the film uncovers a corporate conspiracy, where Stanfield’s Cassius needs to make an important choice – to choose a life of profit or to join his activist friends to organise labour.
The film boasts social commentary with a panache of absurd humour. Like ‘They Cloned Tyrone’, it features a captivating soundtrack that keeps you invested throughout its duration. Its characters face a similar dilemma between assimilation and the modern form of slavery where the narrative explores themes of racism and classism. Besides Stanfield, a brilliant ensemble of Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, and Steven Yeun make it a must viewing.
2. Us (2019)
Jorden Peele’s sophomore feature – ‘Us’ is a terrifying psychological horror film. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker in the central roles, the script follows Nyong’o’s Adelaide and her family, who get attacked by a group of menacing doppelgängers. They invade the humans’ personal spaces and create havoc in their lives. However, the script goes beyond showcasing their spooky presence and creating a fun entertainer.
The script talks about several themes such as racism and slavery that are a shameful, yet undeniable part of the US’s dark past. The film becomes an excellent critique of privilege that is specific to a country, and yet, feels universal. The film brilliantly explores its heavy themes while being a thrilling cinematic experience. Besides, like ‘They Cloned Tyrone’, ‘Us’ competently uses the metaphor of clones to open us to more discussions that offer a defining conclusion. The intentional ambiguity makes it a stimulating watch.
3. Get Out (2017)
In his directorial debut, Jordan Peele takes big swings with his writing. ‘Get Out’ is one of the most ground-breaking psychological horror films to have ever come out. Starring Daniel Kaluuya in the central role, it tells the story of a young black man who goes to meet the family of his white girlfriend (played by Allison Williams) and uncovers shocking secrets about them. This multiple-award-winning film critiques the terrifying reality of racist America while being a solid horror entertainer.
The script also deals with the aspect of assimilation while making a potent commentary on post-racial America and neoliberalism. Like ‘They Cloned Tyrone’, it fuses the elements of comedy and psychological thriller to create a spooky, yet darkly comedic atmosphere. Besides, it is also backed by a fantastic soundtrack with tracks like Childish Gambino’s ‘Redbone’ and Flanagan and Allen’s ‘Run, Rabbit, Run’ among others.
4. Never Let Me Go (2010)
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Kazuo Ishiguro novel, ‘Never Let Me Go’ is a British dystopian romantic tragedy film, written by Alex Garland (known for ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Annihilation’) and directed by Mark Romanek. The tragic tale follows a love triangle between Kathy H, Ruth C, and Tommy D played by Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield respectively. These curious adolescents, living in a boarding school in a bleak world with limited freedoms, uncover a sinister conspiracy entwined to their lives.
They eventually discover the truth about their lives, which reshapes their perception of the world they live in. While set in a dystopian setting, it makes us introspect into our own lives and the aspect of choice. The similarly stimulating nature makes it worth a viewing in case you liked ‘They Cloned Tyrone’. Besides, the plot has a few similar aspects that I would encourage you to experience on your own.
5. Oblivion (2013)
Joseph Kosinki’s ‘Oblivion’ is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure film starring Tom Cruise in the main role. Based on Kosinki’s unpublished eponymous novel, the film tells a love story set in 2077 on an Earth desolated by an alien war. Cruise plays Jack, a maintenance technician on the verge of completing his mission, who finds a spaceship crash survivor Julia (played by Olga Kurylenko) while fulfilling his duties. It leads him to question his purpose and discover the truth about the war that he was a part of.
There are a few factors that you would appreciate if you loved ‘They Cloned Tyrone’. While not delving into any spoilers, I can suggest this film due to its compelling discourse about our choices and actions. The Tom Cruise film neatly explores the dichotomy between the person we were and the person we become while being visually stunning. The acting performances by Cruise, Kurylenko, Andrea Risborough, and Morgan Freeman are another reason you should watch it.
6. Enemy (2013)
Dennis Villeneuve’s ‘Enemy’ is a neo-noir surrealist psychological thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal in a dual role. Written by Javier Gullón, it is loosely adapted from José Saramago’s ‘The Double’. In the film, Gyllenhaal plays two men, who are physically identical, but differ in terms of their personality. Adam, a college history professor with a mundane life, comes across a film where the actor looks like his physical twin. Their eventual meeting leads to more questions than answers. Owing to their identical appearance, they explore different possibilities in their lives.
The mystery of this actor’s identity and Adam’s relationship with him unravel in a Kafkaesque style where the sepia-tinted frames create a perfectly dystopian atmosphere. While not delving into the conspiracy aspect of ‘They Cloned Tyrone’, it leads you on a similarly beguiling psychological quest and leaves you with an experience that is hard to shake off from your mind.