Spike Lee had already been recognized as a filmmaker to watch with his student Academy award winner Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, and then with his hit indie feature SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT. But it is DO THE RIGHT THING that solidified his reputation as a major creative talent. Now, on the 30th anniversary of its release(!), it is, unfortunately, timely as ever with its exploration of racial tensions that explode.
With its many creative flourishes including characters speaking directly into the camera and others commenting on the action, DO THE RIGHT THING holds up a mirror challenging all of us to see ourselves in one another. Set in the pre-gentrfied Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, what begins on a sweltering day as a comedy evolves into a provocative, disquieting drama as it chronicles how seemingly trivial events centering around Sal’s Pizza explode into violence and tragedy. The terrific cast includes besides Spike himself as pizza delivering Mookie, Danny Aiello as proprietor of Sal’s, Richard Edson as son Vito & John Turturro as son Pino, Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee, the late Bill Nunn as boom box carrying Radio Raheem playing Fight the Power, Joie Lee as Jade, Sal’s crush, Samuel Jackson as dj Mister Señor Love Daddy, Rosie Perez as Mookie’s Tina, and Giancarlo Esposito as Bugging Out.
(USA / 1989 / Directed by Spike Lee)
R / 120 mins.