MOVIEmeter
Top 5000
Up 362 this week

Do the Right Thing (1989)

R  |   |  Drama  |  21 July 1989 (USA)
7.9
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.9/10 from 53,854 users   Metascore: 91/100
Reviews: 402 user | 96 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.

Director:

Writer:

Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

ON DISC

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 36 titles
created 11 Nov 2011
 
a list of 38 titles
created 19 Sep 2012
 
a list of 34 titles
created 07 Nov 2013
 
a list of 38 titles
created 30 Apr 2014
 
list image
a list of 36 titles
created 11 months ago
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Do the Right Thing (1989)

Do the Right Thing (1989) on IMDb 7.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Do the Right Thing.

User Polls

Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Malcolm X (1992)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo
Jungle Fever (1991)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Friends and family of a married black architect react in different ways to his affair with an Italian secretary.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Wesley Snipes, Annabella Sciorra, Spike Lee
School Daze (1988)
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A not so popular young man wants to pledge to a popular fraternity at his historically black college.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, Tisha Campbell-Martin
Crooklyn (1994)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

From Spike Lee comes this vibrant semi-autobiographical portrait of a school-teacher, her stubborn jazz-musician husband and their five kids living in '70s Brooklyn.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Alfre Woodard, Delroy Lindo, David Patrick Kelly
Clockers (1995)
Drama | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Young drug pushers in the projects of Brooklyn live hard dangerous lives, trapped between their drug bosses and the detectives out to stop them.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Harvey Keitel, John Turturro, Delroy Lindo
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Jazz trumpeter Bleek Gilliam makes questionable decisions in his professional and romantic life.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Wesley Snipes
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A disparate group of African-American men travel by bus to Washington, DC for the Million Man March.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Ossie Davis, Charles S. Dutton, Andre Braugher
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Story of a woman and her three lovers.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell
25th Hour (2002)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Cornered by the DEA, convicted New York drug dealer Montgomery Brogan reevaluates his life in the 24 remaining hours before facing a seven-year jail term.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Edward Norton, Barry Pepper, Philip Seymour Hoffman
He Got Game (1998)
Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A basketball player's father must try to convince him to go to a college so he can get a shorter sentence.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Denzel Washington, Milla Jovovich, Ray Allen
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A documentary of the notorious racial terrorist bombing of an African American church during the Civil Rights Movement.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Maxine McNair, Walter Cronkite, Chris McNair
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

A middle-class boy from Atlanta finds his worldview changed as he spends the summer with his deeply religious grandfather in the housing projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Jules Brown, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Toni Lysaith
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Paul Benjamin ...
ML
...
...
...
Jade
...
...
...
Clifton
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

21 July 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heatwave  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$27,545,445 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The entire shooting took place on one commandeered block in Brooklyn. Extra care was taken to ensure the experience was palatable to the residents of that block and the production even hired a couple residents on that block. See more »

Goofs

When Da Mayor first presents the bunch of roses to Mother Sister the blooms are fully opened. However, later in the film when the roses are again seen in her apartment, the blooms are closed. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Episode #2.13 (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Feel So Good
Music and Lyrics by Sami McKinney, Lori Perry, and Michael O'Hara
Performed by Perri
O'Hara Music/Texas City Music (BMI), AVID One Music (ASCAP)
MCA Publishing/Perrylane Music (BMI)
Courtesy of Zebra/MCA Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Creative, but definitely not flawless
22 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's sometimes difficult to separate artists' public statements from the work they're commenting on, or to ignore the politically charged aura a film generates. There's always that nagging feeling that a movie's point must be sussed out, that the real intentions of the filmmaker must be understood. But in retrospect--and despite director Spike Lee's rhetoric--Do the Right Thing may not be as profound as previously thought. While it should be applauded for taking on the subject of race without Hollywood's usual heavy-handedness, simply presenting a topic doesn't automatically mean anything is actually being said about that topic.

Whatever problems there are with the content, Do the Right Thing is still great film-making. It's a vibrant, passionate, funny movie, and like a true work of art, it both surprises and provokes. It's technically audacious and features one of the most successful displays of stifling, suffocating heat ever put on film.and it does it without being languid itself. The dialogue is fast paced, the characters energetic, and the camera-work unpredictable, full of clever pans and Twilight Zone angles. And, except for the always excruciating Martin Lawrence, the performances are uniformly good throughout. Lee also manages to out-Altman Altman by presenting a large cast of characters without it ever becoming confusing or disjointed.

Taking place over the course of one scorching day in Bedford-Stuyvesant, most of the action occurs in and around a pizzeria run by Sal (Danny Aiello) and his sons Pino and Vito (John Turturro, Richard Edson). But the entire neighborhood is featured as the film intercuts between various exchanges, many of them tinged with racial overtones: while Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito) challenges a white tenement owner when he feels slighted, down the street three men debate the right of a Korean to own a variety store in "their" neighborhood.

There are personal moments as well: Da Mayor (Ossie Davis) continually attempts to soften Mother Sister's (Ruby Dee) opinion of him, while Mookie (Lee) juggles time between his job at Sal's and his increasingly aggravated girlfriend (Rosie Perez). Although Lee doesn't have the time to make all his characters three-dimensional, he avoids sentimentalizing or demonizing any one group; there are both blacks and whites who are sympathetic (Sal, Da Mayor) and troublesome (Pino, Radio Raheem). Only the Korean storeowner played by Steven Parks is a blatant caricature. (Asians seem to get short shrift no matter who is behind the camera.) Presiding over the action is disc jockey Senor Love Daddy (Samuel L. Jackson). Like Wolfman Jack in American Graffiti, he provides ongoing background music, as well as periodic commentary.

Eventually, the heat and personal tensions culminate in an explosion of violence centered on Sal's pizzeria. The violence escalates after one of the characters is killed. It's at this point that the film becomes problematic. The murder is supposed to be a tragedy, meant to provoke outrage in the audience. But the killing of a fictional character isn't enough in itself to warrant a reaction. It's not that audiences are jaded, but drama usually elicits judgement based on the narrative alone. If a character is a jerk, his death won't elicit much of a response. Like Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, Do the Right Thing relies too heavily on the personal baggage audiences are supposedly bringing to the film. Drawing on contemporary events and feelings may be provocative, but it dates the film and makes for poor drama. The reactions of Mookie and Mother Sister to the murder may have been understandable to a disenfranchised group, but in the context of the plot they appear unmotivated, almost random.

The somewhat ambiguous nature of the movie could easily be trumpeted as a selling point. Lee doesn't want to hold your hand; he wants you to make up your own mind. But there is a fine line between "bravely ambiguous" and "maddeningly directionless." While Oliver Stone continually has been pilloried for his blatantly didactic films, there is something to be said for being recklessly personal and taking a stand. Lee made a movie about racism; but we're so starved for challenging works, for thematically mature movies, we've embraced a film that ultimately says nothing more than "racism is bad" and "no one person or group is to blame."

The simplistic ideals of Do the Right Thing are most evident in four scenes: 1) Love Daddy lists practically every major black musician from the last fifty years; 2) in an overly contrived sequence, Mookie gets Pino to admit that his cultural heroes are all black (Magic Johnson, Eddie Murphy, and Prince); 3) Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan are all mentioned; 4) the words "Tawana Told the Truth" appear spray painted on a wall (a reference to the Tawana Brawley controversy of 1987). No differentiation is made between the listed artists, and no context is given for the black leaders mentioned. These aren't explorations of racially-charged issues, it's just name dropping.

Despite its flaws, Do the Right Thing provokes discussion. It's an impossible film to dismiss. Spike Lee's subsequent career has turned out to be a disappointment, but Do the Right Thing, along with Malcolm X, represent Lee at his creative peak.


8 of 11 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
Radio Raheem was an idiot jhiller420
Extra cheese is $2.00 dfwiebs
Best movie of the 1980s? erspamt
Discuss Do the Right Thing (1989) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?