Jamie Foxx’s brilliant performance as Slick Charles in Netflix’s sci-fi cloning conspiracy comedy “They Cloned Tyrone” is a cause for a few celebrations.
Celebration one for is the fact that the movie got made. “They Cloned Tyrone,” directed and co-written by Juel Taylor, is a futuristic ‘hood mystery based around a white and white-adjacent corporate agenda to control the Black community through fried chicken, drugs and perms. Yes, you read that right ,and yes, this is a big Hollywood production that made it to select theaters before its Netflix debut.
In the film, three unlikely people stumble upon each other and discover the plot for Black destruction collectively, and as a result challenge each other in different ways to right the many wrongs happening in their orbit. Who are the heroes that infiltrate the layer of evil corporate white people, expose and ultimately destroy this agenda? Not cops, not an online actvist, not an army commander, not even a firefighter – but a gritty drug dealer named Fontaine, played by John Boyega, a genius sex worker heavily inspired by Nancy Drew who goes by Yo-Yo ( Teyonah Parris) and a yak-guzzling slick-talking pimp named Slick Charles, played by Jamie Foxx, which brings us to . . .
Celebration two is for Jamie Foxx. In real life, the Oscar-winning actor has been dealing with mysterious, severe life-threatening health issues and addressed his medical status in a recent Instagram post: “I want to thank everybody for the prayers and messages. I cannot even begin to tell you how far it took me and how it brought me back. I went through something I thought I would never ever go through. Many people wanted to hear updates, but honestly, I just didn’t want you to see me like that.”
“I’ve heard some people say I was blind, but as you can see, the eyes are working . . .” Foxx continued, “Some people said I was paralyzed. I’m not paralyzed, I’m not, but I did go through hell and back; my road recovery had some potholes as well, but I’m coming back, and I can work, so I want to thank people.”
Those same kinds of Jamie Foxx clips started circling online in a way that was frightening as it was inspiring.
“They Cloned Tyrone” was optioned by Black List back in 2019, which means the creative team has been on a five-year journey with this project. Obviously Foxx filmed this movie before his recent health crisis, but there was so much gossip surrounding his illness – speculating whether he would live or die – that we thought we may never see him again (or this would be a posthumous appearance).
Society has a funny way of giving some of the most influential people in culture their flowers after they can’t receive them. Michael Jackson was treated like a silly caricature during his last days, being the butt of so many jokes, that people seemed to forget that he made music. But after his death was announced, his best songs began looping on every station. The same thing happened with Whitney Houston. People mocked her, saying, “Crack is whack,” so much that her addiction drowned out the fact that she is one of the most gifted songstresses ever. And then Houston passed away, and we were reintroduced to the songs that made us fall in love with her. Those same kinds of Jamie Foxx clips started circling online recently in a way that was frightening as it was inspiring.
Everyone remembers Foxx’s unbelievable Ray Charles transformation in “Ray,” but many forget he’s also a genius comedian. A master of sketch comedy during his days of playing Wanda on “In Living Color,” and as if God was running out of people to give talents to – Foxx can also sing like an angel. The man has snagged an Academy Award, a Grammy, a Golden Globe, a Critics Choice Award, a bunch of NAACP awards and many more golden trophies throughout his career. Unfortunately, the idea of losing him was needed to remind us of how great he is, but thankfully the Foxx is back.
Slick Charles in “They Cloned Tyrone” is vintage Foxx with snappy one-liners in combination with an emotional tug-of-war between the many different parts of the film. Should Slick Charles focus on being a pimp or save the world or just save himself? Foxx executes all of this while still making us laugh and be angry and wonder what he’s going to do next. I wouldn’t be surprised if his performance will allow him to add another trophy to his award collection.
And when we realize we have the power, the sky won’t even be a high enough limit.
And the final celebration goes to “They Cloned Tyrone’s” messaging. The creators don’t hesitate to put the people first. The film is a clear example of how the Black community are the only ones who have the power to save the Black community – not fast-talking politicians, CNN talking heads or celebrity activists with catchy usernames and a talent for creating viral hashtags. The regular everyday people in the community fully understand the issues and have the proximity needed to force the kind of change we need. And when we realize we have the power, the sky won’t even be a high enough limit.
“The Cloned Tyrone” is streaming on Netflix.
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