One Paragraph Movie Review: Do the Right Thing (1989)

My god, what a powerful film! Do the Right Thing is Spike Lee’s best film to date, and possibly his most personal one too. The movie is very honest about what it wants to be, which is to say that it deals with the never-ending war on racism head-on and never holds back. The film is centred around a variety of characters who are for the most part African American, with the exception of a trio of Italian Americans: Sal, the owner of the famous pizzeria, and his sons. The main character of the film is Mookie (played by Spike Lee), who interacts with every other important character throughout the story, and ends up being faced with the ultimate ethical question that the movie builds up to until the very last act. The story is set on the hottest day of the year in Brooklyn, NYC, and all the main characters are out and about doing their own thing in a neighbourhood that we as the audience learn to appreciate as its own character. Events swing in motion after a very insecure African American, played by the always hilarious Giancarlo Esposito, gets really ticked off at Sal for not having any framed pictures of famous African Americans on his wall, as it is reserved for famous Italian Americans. He decides to boycott Sal’s pizzeria and tries to spread the message around and gather support. The character of Radio Rahim carries a boom box around with him which is only set to playing Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”, which obviously defines one of the most important themes of the film with regards to fighting against the dominant hostile race. One great thing about this film is that Spike Lee allows you to hang out with his characters and understand who they are, which allows for the numerous set pieces and story developments to blend in well with the narrative. The film was released in the wake of numerous race-related violent incidents by white men on black people in the 1980’s (the film specifically refers to Tawana Brawley and Michael Stewart), as well as the history of poor treatment of African Americans in the United States. As if this writing, this is easily the best film that I have seen which deals with a serious issue, and it does not fall into the trap that most films dealing with that subject matter tend to. It is very ambitious and very serious about its themes and ideas, and I personally feel that it has stood the test of time and remains a classic.

4.5 out of 5

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