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Do the Right Thing (1989)

R  |   |  Drama  |  21 July 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 55,757 users   Metascore: 91/100
Reviews: 406 user | 100 critic | 15 from Metacritic.com

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.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Benjamin ...


This film looks at life in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn on a hot summer Sunday. As he does everyday, Sal Fragione opens the pizza parlor he's owned for 25 years. The neighborhood has changed considerably in the time he's been there and is now composed primarily of African-Americans and Hispanics. His son Pino hates it there and would like nothing better than to relocate the eatery to their own neighborhood. For Sal however, the restaurant represents something that is part of his life and sees it as a part of the community. What begins as a simple complaint by one of his customers, Buggin Out - who wonders why he has only pictures of famous Italian-Americans on the wall when most of his customers are black - eventually disintegrates into violence as frustration seemingly brings out the worst in everyone. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can... See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

21 July 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heatwave  »

Box Office


$6,500,000 (estimated)


$27,545,445 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although Rosie Perez's character, Tina, is a major part in the cast she never leaves her apartment throughout the storyline, nor does she interact with any neighbor other than Mookie from inside the apartment. See more »


The story takes place at the intersection of Bedford and Stuyvesant Avenues. In reality, the two do not cross each other, however the film was shot in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn. See more »


[first lines]
Mister Senor Love Daddy: Wake up! Wake up! Up you wake!
See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Danny Aiello/Coolio (1996) See more »


Hard to Say
Music and Lyrics by Raymond Jones
Performed by Lori Perry and Gerald Alston
Zubaidah Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Motown Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

That's the double-truth, Ruth
24 May 2005 | by (Israel) – See all my reviews

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.

89 of 116 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I'm not racist, but I was on Sal's side. Vikingsrock158
Great film.... but Sal forgot how to run an American business. dasein_williams
More anti-Black or anti-White? kag2
Extra cheese is $2.00 dfwiebs
Spike Lee's acting amrowntree
Did he do 'the right thing'? What do you think? lars_fv
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