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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.27%
Just Average: 0.92%
Pretty Crappy: 2.75%
Sucks: 5.5%

7 reviews, 67 user ratings

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Do the Right Thing
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by Chef ADogg

"Why are all these actors yelling at me?"
4 stars

"Do the Right Thing" was made in 1989, the period directly before Spike Lee discovered that dialogue is much more effective when characters deliver it to EACH OTHER, instead of directly at the camera; as such, it plays like "Carnal Knowledge" juiced up with racism and other thought provoking subject matter. But while Lee's third full length film may be a more powerful, enlightening experience, it lacks the overall impact of Ann Margaret's breasts.

You know, I really can't get a handle on this movie. Is it great? Does it suck? I think it falls somewhere in between. Certainly it has great aspects--the cinematography, the score, the acting (ESPECIALLY the acting). . . They all add up, they all make this a worthwhile experience.

But...You know, of all the things that piss me off when I'm watching a movie, the one thing I truly detest is when a filmmaker hops on the ole soapbox and starts preaching. I've never really considered "Do the Right Thing" to be that kind of film--it's so entertaining, so packed with things to watch and hear and just EXPERIENCE, that you barely notice how the actors address the camera, how certain scenes of dialogue refuse to flow naturally, and how Lee completely throws all aesthetic sense out the window when it comes down to the final scenes and all hell is breaking loose.

That's really what capped it for me last night when I was watching the film again. "Do the Right Thing" starts off as a simple "over the course of one day" story, introducing us to a bunch of characters and offering up a lot of things for us to think about (most of the characters are racist in one way or another; the film also deals with themes of parental responsibility, the bonds of community, and police brutality); then in the last half hour it gets out of control and Lee loses his grip.

Now, granted, there are very few filmmakers who could keep a leash on the last act of this film, effectively contain so much chaos. But Spike goes about it completely wrong. Instead of trying to capture the static of the situation, he offers up close ups of all the actors' faces while they scream profanities and just generally look nervous, a technique that coils up your gut, but in the wrong way. When I see something like this, I want to be terrorfied and confused. What Lee does gives you all the confusion you could possibly handle, but with no solid string of horror.

By this point you might be thinking that I'm of the opinion that "Do the Right Thing" is a bad film, when the exact opposite is actually true. When you're working with a series of events this complicated, this morally thorny, the ending is rarely going to turn out the way you want it to (and I have a history of agreeing with Spike Lee's filmmaking methods about once upon a blue moon).

I give solid props to "Do The Right Thing" simply because it tries in spots where most other films coast along and rely on formula; Lee's pleasure in provoking the audience is displayed in a consistently brazen fashion, but this is one movie that will actually make you think about the events that take place, reconsider your beliefs, and question what is commonly held as right. Yeah, it's *that* good.

A lot of the film's power comes from the actors--the cast is knock-on-wood, from Danny Aiello, as an Italian American who's been running a successful pizzeria in the middle of an all-black neighborhood for twenty-five years, to Giancarlo Esposito, as the seemingly harmless neighborhood loudmouth/troublemaker, to Lee himself, as a heavy lidded, irresponsible pizza boy. The characters may just be generalizations standing in for attitudes and philosophies, but the performances make it work, make the word seem concrete and real.

Lee's direction serves to tie the various segements of the film into a cohesive whole, uniting a million different plot strands into one blazing manifestation of urban rage. From the very beginning, we are swept along, taken into the minimal story and made to care about the people we're watching. The process is aided heavily by one of the most beautiful, aching scores in recent years, composed by Lee's father and performed by Branford Marsalis.

"Do the Right Thing" is a good film that falls just short of being great; it has most of the ingredients but falters in its final moments. That's a shame, but the rest of the movie survives, and should definitely be watched (repeatedly). Various aspects will rub various people the wrong way, but everyone's going to find something they can relate to, or believe in, or identify with. And isn't that kind of director-audience connection the most beautiful thing of all?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1106&reviewer=123
originally posted: 01/29/00 02:12:36
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User Comments

12/28/17 morris campbell preachy but potent & honest a ticking timebomb indeed 4 stars
9/19/17 Ken Spike Lee's magnum opus. 5 stars
4/28/12 Dennis Justin Do the Right Thing...Don't avoid seeing this film. 5 stars
3/15/12 stanley welles do the right thing ... avoid this mess 1 stars
3/02/11 chris c A ticking time bomb of hate explodes during the summer of '89: nobody follows the title 5 stars
3/09/10 Richard Brandt Hard-charging, right-headed film about wrong-headed people 5 stars
5/22/09 Jeff Wilder Spike Lee's best film. The movie that Crash tried to be. 5 stars
4/30/09 Vince One of the worst movies of all time. Contradicts itself a lot & lousy characters all over 1 stars
5/19/08 jointz The fact that DTRT has filmgoers debating to this day truly speaks for its brilliance. 5 stars
7/05/07 fools♫gold Chill! So this isn't the greatest user review. 100000000000000000000000000000000000% 5 stars
6/14/07 William Goss Moderately heavy-handed and preachy, but important nonetheless. 4 stars
12/04/06 David Cohen Preachy, hypocritical and why the @#$! are people talking to the camera? 2 stars
4/28/06 mike jones spike looks awefully funny with his chicken legs 4 stars
3/01/06 Geoffrey D. Holman /Priest Spike Lee is one of the industries finest writers and directors.... 5 stars
12/11/05 daniel absolute masterpiece 5 stars
12/08/05 Bianca Goodin Loved it, the movie really makes people think 5 stars
8/05/05 Zack No comment 5 stars
7/06/05 Isaac Baranoff GREAT MOVIE! 5 stars
6/08/05 Agent Sands One of the most brilliantly realistic movies of all time. 5 stars
5/27/05 Weltner Anti-White,black racist propaganda.Whitey racist,blacks totally innocent.Go to hell,spike! 1 stars
12/26/04 mjoc Spiek Lee rearing his ugly racist head!! Bad movie! 1 stars
9/08/04 R.W. Welch Innovative style and camera work portray bad day in the hood. Solid acting. 4 stars
7/18/04 scrambled brain one of the best movies *ever*, and i'm not even a spike lee fan 5 stars
6/21/04 T. Maj The best film of the 80s; unforgettable 5 stars
2/18/04 john a powerful and thoughtful film - very well made 5 stars
12/08/03 CLear Day Many Layers, Several Stories, Anyone who would call this film RACIST is likely to be one! 5 stars
8/21/03 Goofy Maxwell Spike's riotous "mob" movie...reminds me of A Bronx Tale;drama 'bout race hate can alienate 5 stars
7/16/03 cochese Spike Lee is a racist, bigot, who should be ostracized, but hes not...cause hes black. 1 stars
6/01/03 Ana very good 4 stars
5/16/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!) Possibly the most truthful fucking movie of all time, Hi, KMG. Assholes. 5 stars
12/07/02 Frank Cobbina A must-see movie 5 stars
10/26/02 Mr. Hat Brilliant social commentary and nice music, acting, directing, and writing. 4 stars
10/23/02 Charles Tatum Spike ran out of ideas and threw a trash can through a window 2 stars
10/09/02 Kitfo Aristotle would have approved. 5 stars
7/27/02 Butterbean I appreciate this movie as I grow older. I wish Spike would make more non-racial movies. 4 stars
7/26/02 I Can't Swim I can't believe the amount of children that post their SHITE here! Movie is great! 5 stars
7/21/02 The Man KMG and Hi need to be put down, though some characters are racist, the film is not.Flawless 5 stars
4/22/02 KMG How is doing the right thing trashing a pizza parlor, Spike, you racist turd!? 2 stars
3/30/02 hi what a niggerfestival 1 stars
1/21/02 anju it was a good movie...it makes you think about the things that are happening in real life 4 stars
12/20/01 John Linton Roberson The key: there is no "hero". Still a great film; could be a play. 5 stars
12/03/01 Alphonso Harrell I think that Lee is a great director and he is attacking issues of racism on both sides 5 stars
8/18/01 Edwin Menguin Spike Lee is a crap actor, it would have been better without him 4 stars
4/23/01 BGuha It was a educational and interesting flick. It showed everyday life. 5 stars
3/25/01 shannon leigh excellant movie, spike lee's best 5 stars
1/13/01 rita I had to make a review on it. 5 stars
6/14/00 Elvisfan Spike's only masterpiece - now & forever 5 stars
5/08/00 macdaddy willy this was the s*&t 5 stars
2/22/00 Jedi I really liked this movie, but the ending bothered me 5 stars
1/29/00 Mic Do the right thing - watch this film (although I HATE Rosie Perez). 4 stars
1/29/00 JonnyAngel I wasn't really feeling it, but definatly worth a look 4 stars
12/03/99 Saket Narula One of Lee's greatest movies.DTRT asks you to decide what the Right Thing Is? War OR Peace. 5 stars
10/10/99 Weird Andy Doesn't live up to the hype. Some excellent performances, though. 3 stars
8/19/99 Japtalian Spike Lee at his best. Everyone should see this movie. 5 stars
6/25/99 David Keech Great film, and great cast. I like how Lee lets us decide who did the right thing. 5 stars
6/14/99 Dylan Spike Lees 2nd best movie (after Malcolm X). 5 stars
5/28/99 Bob, Lord of Evil The question is; Does Lee know who did the right thing himself? 5 stars
5/02/99 The Bomb 69 thought provoking, something wasn't quite right though 4 stars
2/02/99 Vick Di Brecci Kinda simplistic, corny at times, very nice atmosphere, great moments & overall look 4 stars
11/30/98 Mr.Pink Not the masterpiece that many people think it is, but still a good film. 4 stars
11/26/98 broku a movie that actually makes you think. who did the right thing 5 stars
11/12/98 Lord Of The Dunce Had such high hopes for Spike after this movie. It's just breathtaking. 5 stars
10/18/98 Kwyjibo Sensational filmmaking. If only Spike had followed this path instead of cashing up. 5 stars
10/14/98 Bluntman PERFECT! BRILLIANT! YES!!!!! 5 stars
10/10/98 {{{OZ}}} M-m-m-m-m-MOOOKIE!! Great characters, great flick, great look, awesome film. 5 stars
10/09/98 Nate Dogg Definately Spike's best piece 5 stars
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  02-Feb-1989 (R)


  02-Jul-1989 (M)

Directed by
  Spike Lee

Written by
  Spike Lee

  Danny Aiello
  Ossie Davis
  Ruby Dee
  Richard Edson
  John Turturro
  Spike Lee

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