Barry Jenkins on why ‘They Cloned Tyrone’ is “so damn good”
(Credit: Netflix)


Barry Jenkins on why 'They Cloned Tyrone' is “so damn good”

This cinematic year has been overshadowed by the colossal presence of two titans: Greta Gerwig and Christopher Nolan. Their respective projects, Barbie and Oppenheimer, have captivated cinemas, social media platforms, and global audiences alike. Amidst the flurry of pink-themed marketing blitzes and playful “Barbenheimer” quips, smaller films have struggled to carve out a space in the cultural discourse.

With this in mind, Academy Award-winning director Barry Jenkins recently took to Twitter to shine a light on one of the victims of the Barbie v. Oppenheimer war, They Cloned Tyrone, which he called “so damn good”. They Cloned Tyrone is the directorial feature debut of Juel Taylor and stars John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, and Jamie Foxx. It’s a sleek ode to the blaxploitation films of the 1970s, following the trio as they investigate a cloning conspiracy.

Jenkins went on to compare the picture to a number of other films, describing it as “a modern day Spook Who Sat By The Door with shades of Edge of Tomorrow and Players Club in the visual style of Peak”.

He also lamented, “And it’s just sitting there… on Netflix… getting a fraction of the flowers it deserves”.

Unfortunately, the sci-fi has been overshadowed by its $100million budget peers. Lacking the financial support of Mattel, the adapted source material that guarantees an audience, or the prestige that comes with the Nolan name, They Cloned Tyrone flew under the radar when its release date clashed with Barbie and Oppenheimer on Friday, July 21st. The film’s release has also been limited to Netflix, denying it any theatrical success. 

With all of these elements working against the deserved success of They Cloned Tyrone, it’s heartening to see Jenkins, an instrumental figure in modern black indie cinema, uplifting the film on his own platform. This is particularly potent as Jenkins has previously taken on the role of the underdog in a cinematic title race himself. 

The filmmaker produced his magnum opus, the 2016 coming-of-age Moonlight, on a budget of just $1.5million. Going up against the likes of Denis Villeneuve’s $47m budget sci-fi Arrival, and Damien Chazelle’s Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone-fronted La La Land, Moonlight triumphed and became the cheapest ‘Best Picture’ winner of all time.

Now, Jenkins has vocalised his support for another underdog in They Cloned Tyrone. Amidst the all-encompassing and relentless hype for Gerwig and Nolan, it’s reassuring to see Jenkins spotlighting the innovation of Taylor’s debut. While the ‘Barbenheimer’ buzz has caused a pop cultural storm like no other, it’s important that film fans also show their support for smaller films with equally important stories to tell, particularly when they’re so accessible.