On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.
Release Year: 1989
Rating: 7.9/10 (33,315 voted)
Critic's Score: 91/100
Stars: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee
It's the hottest day of the year in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, and tensions are growing there, with the only local businesses being a Korean grocery and Sal's Pizzeria. Mookie, Sal's delivery boy, manages to always be at the center of the action.
Salvatore 'Sal' Fragione
Sweet Dick Willie
It's the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can…
Release Date: 30 June 1989
Filming Locations: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Box Office Details
Did You Know?
According to Rosie Perez, her face is not shown in her nude scene because she felt exploited and was crying. She later decided she didn't mind and appeared nude again in other movies.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs:
When Buggin Out is bumped into by the man with the bike, he gets hit on his left side, but when he looks at his sneaker, the scuff mark is on the outside of his right shoe. This is to further illustrate the mentality of these characters. They will look for a fight in any scenario and they are not concerned if their actions are justified. The man in the Larry Bird jersey didn't really scuff up Buggin' Out's shoe, but Buggin' Out was just such a loose cannon that he was waiting to be set off.
Mister Senor Love Daddy:
Wake up! Wake up! Up you wake!
That's the double-truth, Ruth
In all likelihood Spike Lee's most important achievement – as director,
writer and actor (though to my taste Mo' Better Blues is just as good a
picture) and one of the strongest films you'll see about race
relations, 'Do The Right Thing' looks dated at times, but it lost none
of its impact and relevance. The movie takes place in a particularly
hot day in a primarily African-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, and
follows the various personalities who live there throughout the day;
the center of the story is Sal's Famous Pizzeria – its owners, some of
the few white people living in the neighborhood: Sal (Oscar nominated
performance for Danny Aiello) and his two sons (John Torturro and
Richard Edson), and Mookie (Spike Lee himself), the black delivery boy.
What starts out as a light, entertaining movie with some amusing
characters and light humor, gradually builds up tension to the point of
being unbearable, up to the dramatic and tragic climax. Spike doesn't
put as much emphasis on the characters themselves as he does on the
relationships and the tension between them; and in this image of a very
specific and small frame in time and place, makes a strong and
important message about racism and race relations in general. The film
is populated with many different characters, all of them very memorable
and each one a representative of a certain belief, mode of behavior or
state of mind – on both sides of the conflict. From the uninhibited
anger of Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito) and Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn)
on one side and Pino (John Torturro) on the other side, to Jade (Joie
Lee, Spike's sister in the film and in real life) and Vito (Richard
Edson), who are trying to connect and live at peace with the other
side, to Da Mayor (Ossie Davis), in his isolated but peaceful state of
mind, living in complete peace with the world around him, and Smiley
(Roger Smith), living in his own isolated existence. Then there's
Mookie, who is stuck in the middle, torn between his commitment and
responsibilities to both sides. Finally we have Mister Senor Love Daddy
– played gorgeously by the one and only Samuel L. Jackson, in one of
his finest performances – half active character and half all-knowing
narrator – who represents the voice of reason in the conflict, the
reason which is bound, ultimately, to collapse. Each and every
character plays an important part in the climatic and dramatic conflict
to which the movie builds up, and though it's the radical ones – Buggin
Out and Radio Raheem – who trigger the events that cause the tragedy,
they are not necessarily the ones who finish it. It is Mookie and Sal,
in fact, who ultimately play the main part.
Do The Right Thing is not an easy watch; it's a mesmerizing, tense,
difficult film that breaks many taboos and slaughters many holy cows.
But in the end of it – hopefully – you'll be wiser than you were in the
beginning, and that's what Lee have always tried to achieve in all his
films. Watch it to get a real view on racism that doesn't duck the
difficult issues and isn't afraid to tackle the real problem, and to
see a master director at work. It's one of the best films of its time.