Do the Right Thing

1989

Do the Right Thing

Critics 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.

93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 80

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 73,485
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Movie Info

This powerful visual feast combines humor and drama with memorable characters while tracing the course of a single day on a block in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. It's the hottest day of the year, a scorching 24-hour period that will change the lives of its residents forever.

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Critic Reviews for Do the Right Thing

All Critics (80) | Top Critics (21)

  • White people are at war with black people, who are in turn at war with Latinos, but Lee extends to each faction a vibrant pop-culture identity.

    Aug 2, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Lee's oft-maligned scattershot style of storytelling works to perfection here, creating irreplaceable parts of a neighbourhood collage that feels truly alive, with all the messiness that entails.

    Jul 30, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Any way you judge it, Thing reaffirms Lee's position as a filmmaker with audacity, courage and ideas.

    Jul 1, 2019 | Full Review…
  • [You] need to see it for yourself. It's a very unusual movie experience -- two hours of bombardment with New York-style stimuli.

    Sep 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.

    Jul 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.

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

Audience Reviews for Do the Right Thing

  • Aug 26, 2017
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 18, 2015
    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 B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 14, 2014
    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 L Super Reviewer
  • May 08, 2014
    Remember the days when Spike Lee's "joints" has a real edge and potency to them? Nowadays, he's rolling out more generic, Hollywood tripe like "Oldboy" but there was a time when he was a highly original and passionately political filmmaker as he regularly touched upon important social issues and conflicts. However, few of his joints have been as packed or as provocative as "Do The Right Thing". On a hot summer day in a Brooklyn neighbourhood, the residents struggle to keep their cool in the increasingly sweltering temperature. Sal (Danny Aiello) owns the local Italian pizzeria where he happens to upset black activist Buggin' Out (Giancarlo Esposito) who, in turn, demands the black community boycott his place. Most people are unwilling to do so but it still adds to the discontentment amongst the community as racial attitudes and prejudices begin to surface. Taking the title from Malcolm X's quote "You've got to do the right thing" and being inspired by an actual incident in Howard Beach, New York, Spike Lee crafts an important and unflinching portrayal of racial tension in a literal urban melting pot. He sets his intentions from the outset with the ferociously pumping music of Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" and infuses his story with an eclectic mix of races, characters and personalities, while still managing to lend the film an important lightness of touch. It has a distinct and observant humour that magnifies the absurdity in people's preconceptions and judgments but this absurdity is soon, skilfully, shifted to frustration and rage which descends his characters into a chaotic madness. Filled with an abundance of excellent performances from Danny Aiello's hard working Sal to John Turturro as his racist son Pino and a small but highly entertaining role for Samuel L. Jackson as the radio dj, 'Mister Señor Love Daddy' - who seemingly oversees everything in the neighbourhood. Lee's direction is vibrant and colourful and makes full use of an excellent hip-hop score before other filmmakers even realised it was cool to do so. His script is also as sharp as they come with endlessly quotable dialogue and he even has the bravery to have a selection of characters - from different ethnic backgrounds - rhyme off very personal and racial slurs in a montage that breaks the fourth wall. With this scene alone, it's easy to see why some were offended by the film upon it's release. It's a passionate reflection of racism and race relations and one that raises as many questions as it answers. However, that's the whole point; Lee's agenda is not to incite trouble but to rouse debate and he does a sterling job in doing so, while still being empathetic towards each and every one of his characters - regardless of their ethnicity. That's the real key in preventing this film from being contradictory in it's arguments as many critics have claimed it to be. Few films have ever dealt with racism as powerfully or as thought provoking as Lee does here. He has a strong voice on the subject and this outstanding piece of work is one that's still as relevant today as it ever was. Beginning with a simmer before ending in a boiling intensity, this a powerful and thought provoking, sociopolitical commentary. Lee would go on to deliver the similarly themed "Jungle Fever" and "Malcolm X" after this, which cemented his reputation as one the most important black filmmaker's of our (or any) generation. Mark Walker
    Mark W Super Reviewer

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