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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.27%
Average: 0.92%
Pretty Bad: 2.75%
Total Crap: 5.5%

7 reviews, 67 user ratings

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Do the Right Thing
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by Chris Parry

"Upon viewing this movie for the sixth time, I find I must review it. MUST!"
5 stars

Do The Right Thing is one of those movies that, the first time you see it, it has such an effect on you that it's a little tough to see the film for what it really is. Whether or not Lee intended it to do so, for eighty minutes the flick seems to be a simple look at life in New York City, and as it runs along, nice and slow, letting you get to know the characters in your own time, it hides its true intent. Then, when you least expect it, the last ten minutes of the film explodes on you, leaving you bloody in your seat, wondering how that peaceful little place on the screen could suddenly turn into a fully fledged race riot.

Mookie delivers pizzas. Sal runs the pizza place. Everything in between... happens.

So what's the plot? Well, you'd be coming up dry if you were searching for one. Do The Right Thing isn't a story, it's a segment of life. It's like sitting on a street corner, yakking with the locals, having a laugh, getting to put names to faces, faces to names, and along the way getting a little drawn in.

It's a pleasant diversion. Lee's characters never stay on screen long enough to get boring, and even Rosie Perez's shrill screams of joy/anger/whatever emotion she's trying to get across, don't annoy you to the point of needing to hit the mute button.

The ensemble Spike Lee put together for Do The Right Thing includes many faces that would later become household names. Sadly, this is a double-edged sword. Can we blame Lee for the blight that Martin Lawrence has since become, or do we congratulate him for giving Lawrence only five lines in the whole film and wonder why anyone ever gave him any more than that? Is there a special place in Hell reserved for Lee for giving Rosie Perez the idea that she could be an actress?

Either way, it must be said that Do The Right Thing gave Danny Aiello his finest hour. The man was simply built to play Sal the pizza guy, and as the film closes out, he's so 'big' in the role that you will quite definitely skip a few breaths. Aiello quite simply plunges into his role with everything he's got, and he steals the show from all around him in the process - not easy to do when you've got Samuel L. Jackson and John Turturro in the joint.

But perhaps the real star of the show here is Lee's direction. There's nobody out there who can direct 'hot' like Spike Lee, and no matter how many times I've watched this movie, it always drags me into the same summer day haze that those on the screen are suffering through. Lee manages to pull all the usual indie wunderkind directorial camera tricks, but he manages to do so in a subtle enough way as to not look like he's trying to impress. He's simply crossing the t's and dotting the i's that his actors are setting up for him.

Where Lee does come unstuck is in the belief that he, and his sister, can hold a candle in the acting stakes amongst the likes of Aiello, Turturro and Jackson. Spike may be able to get by as a character actor due to his goofy looks, but when he ries to put forward his sister as a glamorous gal about town, he's really not doing her, or the viewer, any favors. Thankfully, Lee's role in Do The Right Thing is nowhere near as ridiculous as those from some of his later films (Summer Of Sam being the most glaringly awful), and the collection of quality characters he weaves throughout this screenplay manage to smooth the handful of bad points into one fine ensemble piece. If you can get through this film without taking Love Daddy, Radio Rahim and The Mayor into the recesses of your long term pop culture memory, then you need to lighten the hell up and go easy on the sugar cereals.

Put simply, Do The Right Thing is a unique cinematic experience, top to bottom. A quality work, that *should* have you thinking about your place in the world, and whether you're part of the problem or part of the solution.

Watch it. Then watch it again in six months time. Then watch it again a year later. It loses nothing. If Lee could match this film just one more time, I'd place him on my top five directors list with Hartley, Jarmusch, Kurosawa and the two Anderson's. Who he'd push off that list, I couldn't even tell you.

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originally posted: 12/20/01 20:13:33
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell preachy but potent & honest a ticking timebomb indeed 4 stars
9/20/17 Ken Spike Lee's magnum opus. 5 stars
4/28/12 Dennis Justin Do the Right Thing...Don't avoid seeing this film. 5 stars
3/16/12 stanley welles do the right thing ... avoid this mess 1 stars
3/03/11 chris c A ticking time bomb of hate explodes during the summer of '89: nobody follows the title 5 stars
3/10/10 Richard Brandt Hard-charging, right-headed film about wrong-headed people 5 stars
5/23/09 Jeff Wilder Spike Lee's best film. The movie that Crash tried to be. 5 stars
4/30/09 Vince One of the worst movies of all time. Contradicts itself a lot & lousy characters all over 1 stars
5/19/08 jointz The fact that DTRT has filmgoers debating to this day truly speaks for its brilliance. 5 stars
7/06/07 fools♫gold Chill! So this isn't the greatest user review. 100000000000000000000000000000000000% 5 stars
6/14/07 William Goss Moderately heavy-handed and preachy, but important nonetheless. 4 stars
12/05/06 David Cohen Preachy, hypocritical and why the @#$! are people talking to the camera? 2 stars
4/28/06 mike jones spike looks awefully funny with his chicken legs 4 stars
3/02/06 Geoffrey D. Holman /Priest Spike Lee is one of the industries finest writers and directors.... 5 stars
12/12/05 daniel absolute masterpiece 5 stars
12/09/05 Bianca Goodin Loved it, the movie really makes people think 5 stars
8/06/05 Zack No comment 5 stars
7/07/05 Isaac Baranoff GREAT MOVIE! 5 stars
6/08/05 Agent Sands One of the most brilliantly realistic movies of all time. 5 stars
5/28/05 Weltner Anti-White,black racist propaganda.Whitey racist,blacks totally innocent.Go to hell,spike! 1 stars
12/27/04 mjoc Spiek Lee rearing his ugly racist head!! Bad movie! 1 stars
9/08/04 R.W. Welch Innovative style and camera work portray bad day in the hood. Solid acting. 4 stars
7/18/04 scrambled brain one of the best movies *ever*, and i'm not even a spike lee fan 5 stars
6/22/04 T. Maj The best film of the 80s; unforgettable 5 stars
2/18/04 john a powerful and thoughtful film - very well made 5 stars
12/09/03 CLear Day Many Layers, Several Stories, Anyone who would call this film RACIST is likely to be one! 5 stars
8/21/03 Goofy Maxwell Spike's riotous "mob" movie...reminds me of A Bronx Tale;drama 'bout race hate can alienate 5 stars
7/16/03 cochese Spike Lee is a racist, bigot, who should be ostracized, but hes not...cause hes black. 1 stars
6/02/03 Ana very good 4 stars
5/17/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!) Possibly the most truthful fucking movie of all time, Hi, KMG. Assholes. 5 stars
12/08/02 Frank Cobbina A must-see movie 5 stars
10/27/02 Mr. Hat Brilliant social commentary and nice music, acting, directing, and writing. 4 stars
10/24/02 Charles Tatum Spike ran out of ideas and threw a trash can through a window 2 stars
10/09/02 Kitfo Aristotle would have approved. 5 stars
7/28/02 Butterbean I appreciate this movie as I grow older. I wish Spike would make more non-racial movies. 4 stars
7/27/02 I Can't Swim I can't believe the amount of children that post their SHITE here! Movie is great! 5 stars
7/22/02 The Man KMG and Hi need to be put down, though some characters are racist, the film is not.Flawless 5 stars
4/23/02 KMG How is doing the right thing trashing a pizza parlor, Spike, you racist turd!? 2 stars
3/31/02 hi what a niggerfestival 1 stars
1/22/02 anju it was a good makes you think about the things that are happening in real life 4 stars
12/21/01 John Linton Roberson The key: there is no "hero". Still a great film; could be a play. 5 stars
12/04/01 Alphonso Harrell I think that Lee is a great director and he is attacking issues of racism on both sides 5 stars
8/19/01 Edwin Menguin Spike Lee is a crap actor, it would have been better without him 4 stars
4/24/01 BGuha It was a educational and interesting flick. It showed everyday life. 5 stars
3/26/01 shannon leigh excellant movie, spike lee's best 5 stars
1/14/01 rita I had to make a review on it. 5 stars
6/15/00 Elvisfan Spike's only masterpiece - now & forever 5 stars
5/09/00 macdaddy willy this was the s*&t 5 stars
2/22/00 Jedi I really liked this movie, but the ending bothered me 5 stars
1/30/00 Mic Do the right thing - watch this film (although I HATE Rosie Perez). 4 stars
1/29/00 JonnyAngel I wasn't really feeling it, but definatly worth a look 4 stars
12/04/99 Saket Narula One of Lee's greatest movies.DTRT asks you to decide what the Right Thing Is? War OR Peace. 5 stars
10/11/99 Weird Andy Doesn't live up to the hype. Some excellent performances, though. 3 stars
8/20/99 Japtalian Spike Lee at his best. Everyone should see this movie. 5 stars
6/25/99 David Keech Great film, and great cast. I like how Lee lets us decide who did the right thing. 5 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Spike Lees 2nd best movie (after Malcolm X). 5 stars
5/29/99 Bob, Lord of Evil The question is; Does Lee know who did the right thing himself? 5 stars
5/03/99 The Bomb 69 thought provoking, something wasn't quite right though 4 stars
2/02/99 Vick Di Brecci Kinda simplistic, corny at times, very nice atmosphere, great moments & overall look 4 stars
11/30/98 Mr.Pink Not the masterpiece that many people think it is, but still a good film. 4 stars
11/27/98 broku a movie that actually makes you think. who did the right thing 5 stars
11/12/98 Lord Of The Dunce Had such high hopes for Spike after this movie. It's just breathtaking. 5 stars
10/18/98 Kwyjibo Sensational filmmaking. If only Spike had followed this path instead of cashing up. 5 stars
10/15/98 Bluntman PERFECT! BRILLIANT! YES!!!!! 5 stars
10/10/98 {{{OZ}}} M-m-m-m-m-MOOOKIE!! Great characters, great flick, great look, awesome film. 5 stars
10/10/98 Nate Dogg Definately Spike's best piece 5 stars
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  02-Feb-1989 (R)


  02-Jul-1989 (M)

Directed by
  Spike Lee

Written by
  Spike Lee

  Danny Aiello
  Ossie Davis
  Ruby Dee
  Richard Edson
  John Turturro
  Spike Lee

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