Do the Right Thing (1989) - Rotten Tomatoes

Do the Right Thing (1989)



Critic Consensus: Smart, vibrant, and urgent without being didactic, Do the Right Thing is one of Spike Lee's most fully realized efforts -- and one of the most important films of the 1980s.

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Movie Info

Set in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, Spike Lee's thought-provoking and powerful comedy/drama chronicles the events that lead up to a race riot between the residents. The action takes place on the hottest day of the year and centers around a pizza parlor owned by Italian-American Sal. It's a popular hangout for the neighborhood youth. The events leading up to the confrontation are presented episodically and center around, Sal (Danny Aiello), his aimless employee Mookie (Spike Lee) and his pal, the radical Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito), who is irritated that Sal's "Wall of Fame" (containing only pictures of famous Italian-Americans) contains no African-American faces and therefore tries unsuccessfully to get the neighborhood blacks, including Mookie, to boycott the restaurant. Radio Raheem, with his blaring boom box permanently affixed to his shoulder, inadvertently becomes the catalyst for violence. As the stories unfold and many colorful satellite characters and their lives are introduced, the temperature rises. With the constant bickering between Mookie and the other employees, the harassment of Buggin Out, and other events, Sal is pushed to the breaking point and makes a fateful decision. Already stressed out and overheated, Sal snaps at closing time when Radio Raheem show up and demands service at the last minute. Violence and tragedy ensue.

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Spike Lee
as Mookie
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as Salvatore 'Sal' Fragione
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as Da Mayor
Ruby Dee
as Mother Sister
Bill Nunn
as Radio Raheem
Frankie Faison
as Coconut Sid
Robin Harris
as Sweet Dick Willie
Miguel Sandoval
as Officer Ponte
Rick Aiello
as Officer Long
John Savage
as Clifton
Samuel L. Jackson
as Mister Senor Love Daddy
Gwen McGee
as Louise
Joel Nagle
as Sargent
David E. Weinberg
as Plain Clothes Detective
Chris Delaney
as Stevie's Friend
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as Plain Clothes Detective
Sixto Ramos
as Stevie's Friend
Nelson Vasquez
as Stevie's Friend
Yattee Brown
as Double Dutch Girl
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News & Interviews for Do the Right Thing

Critic Reviews for Do the Right Thing

All Critics (70) | Top Critics (18)

It winds up bullying the audience-shouting at us rather than speaking to us.

September 6, 2018 | Full Review…

In the final analysis, the best thing one can say for Lee is that he takes risks, like all true artists. For unlike most of today's film makers, he's not afraid to really challenge a movie audience to do some serious thinking.

July 7, 2015 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

[Do the Right Thing is] an exceptional film, a movie that wisely deprives you of the cozy resolutions and epiphanies so often manufactured by Hollywood. Like the film's principals, you are left feeling that you have been torched where you live.

March 3, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

This might sound like a depressing story, but the level of performance and filmmaking is so high that Do the Right Thing becomes a most entertaining warning.

March 3, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Do the Right Thing is complex, bravura movie making. It is also hugely entertaining, since fortunately for us, Lee's seditious method is to use humor to carry his biting message.

March 3, 2015 | Full Review…

Its characters are often abrasive; its language is consistently foul; and it takes a complicated view of race-related violence. Yet it's an attractive and even beguiling film in many ways, too, with large resources of humor and intelligence.

March 3, 2015 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Do the Right Thing

A remarkable film that offers a very funny slice of life in a black neighborhood of Brooklyn before reaching an explosive ending that forces us to consider the implications of racism and violence in American society (even if the conclusion is too ambiguous for its own good).

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

A mixed bag for me. The topic and actual plot events were fascinating, but I found it a little tedious to watch. The movie has this very static quality where actors tend to stand in one spot when they're delivering their lines, instead of moving around naturally, which makes it feel at times like an amateurish stage play. (Perhaps most of it was filmed single-camera?) The only character I felt for was Sal, Danny Aiello is a superb actor. I'm not sure if we're supposed to like the main character Mookie, tbh. Some of the dialogue (especially by Mister Senor Love Daddy and the three old men sitting around) is hilarious with great flow, but a lot of times, for example when tempers run hot, the lines people yell at each other are clichéd and carry no meaning.

Letitia Lew
Letitia Lew

Super Reviewer

Artful, humorous, gritty and powerful. Spike Lee's joint Do The Right Thing executes with an unorthodox cinematic scope that is effective in highlighting a boom of a new generation. The film's overall tone and driving message tells a tale that resonates with all generations. 4/5

Eugene Bernabe
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer

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