Universal acclaim - based on 15 Critics What's this?

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 107 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Set on the hottest day of the summer, the film examines various personal, social and economic issues through the eyes of an ensemble of neighborhood characters on a Bedford Stuyvesant block in Brooklyn.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. 100
    It comes closer to reflecting the current state of race relations in America than any other movie of our time.
  2. Reviewed by: Judy Stone
    Has more originality, nitty-gritty humor, spirit and spunk than all the summer blockbuster retreads combined. Underneath the jousting and jiving, there's a sharp, uncompromising look at the anatomy of a race riot in the movie. [30 June 1989, Daily Notebook, p.E3]
  3. 100
    There's no doubt about the film's sheer power and taut originality.
  4. 100
    This is a sumptuous work, from its unconventional title sequence of a woman dancing hard in the streets to its provocative ending with conflicting quotes from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr .[30 June 1989, Friday, p.A]
  5. Reviewed by: Hal Hinson
    A movie made by filmmaker working in sync with his times -- an exciting, disturbing, provocative film.
  6. Reviewed by: Staff (not credited)
    It is a subtle and humane entertainment with a refreshingly serious view of the world.
  7. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    To accept the film, though, one must first understand its point of view, and that is maddeningly difficult. All we know for certain is that Do the Right Thing is not naturalistic. [July 3, 1989]

See all 15 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 39
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 39
  3. Negative: 7 out of 39
  1. Jan 25, 2013
    Racial relations in films leave much room for sugarcoating and biased views of one or more people on the cast and crew, but thankfully, Spike Lee is too smart to take sides or choose whose battle to support. In Do the Right Thing, he shows how racial relations have hurt one specific street block in Brooklyn. The result soars past any expectations one has going into it.

    The film plays like an anthology, featuring people that resemble real people, and who pack in realistic flaws. It takes place on a brutally hot day in the neighborhood, with the temperature in the late nineties to early hundreds. The film's center is a pizzeria on the street, called Sal's Famous, which is run by an Italian father and his two sons. The father is Sal Frangione (Aiello) who has been on the block for over twenty years, and his sons Pino (Turturro) who refers to coming to work like "Planet of the Apes," and Vito (Edson) who is accepting of the blacks.

    They're the only white people we see throughout the whole film and yet, despite some of their comments, we can sympathize with them in a way. All they want to do is run a business, but odd complications plague their day. The only black character employed at the pizzeria is slacker Mookie (played by Spike Lee himself). Mookie is a gentle and sweet kid, but seems to develop a distracting fondness for anything but his work.

    Other people around down are simple, frequently drunk "Da Mayor" (Davis), Mother Sister (Dee), who observes the neighborhood through her window, Radio Raheem (Nunn), who blasts his music at deafening level on his boombox, which annoys many, Buggin' Out (Esposito), a geeky man who wants to see some black people on the wall of Sal's Famous, and Sonny (Park), a Korean grocery store owner across the street from Sal.

    Not a lot of films can perfect the idea of "all characters, no plot," but Do the Right Thing is effortlessly convincing. The film also excels in being extremely original and stylistic in the sense that the heat from the day itself seems to be creeping out on screen. All the characters are soaked in sweat and the cinematography is so bright and loaded with primary colors that it comes off as infectious and unique. Even the air looks to be seamy and murky. Every detail is included, and nothing is overlooked.

    Finally, there's the climax, one of the best, and most involved I have yet to see. It's unexpected, well-choreographed, and never misses a beat. It doesn't seem cartoony, as much as it seems realistic and well done. I wish I could go into greater detail, but it needs to be seen to be believed. Also, one of the characters does an act you wouldn't think that insights one of the major plot points. I think it's safe to say, he didn't do the right thing.

    Do the Right Thing isn't only provocative, but it avoids cliches and doesn't give us the same "racism is bad" lecture. It's too original and intelligent for that. Lee has introduced us to likable characters that we continue to adore as the film goes on, and despite the heavy climax, we still at least respect. You're left contemplating what the right thing is/was and how would you go about doing it.

    Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Spike Lee, Giancarlo Esposito, John Turturro, Ruby Dee, Steve Park, Bill Nunn, Richard Edson, Rosie Perez, Martin Lawrence, and Samuel L. Jackson. Directed by: Spike Lee.
  2. Nov 7, 2010
    A masterpiece depicting the ambiguities of social and racial inequality, but filmed beautifully and realistically. Its message resonates very strongly even 20 years after the film's release - a testament to how incisive the issues expertly relayed by Lee remain. Do The Right Thing is a fundamentally abrasive film, and thus it would be unreasonable to expect that everyone who watches it appreciates the purpose, but overall that is a key reason why it is so good. A true classic. Expand
  3. renot.
    Sep 28, 2005
    One of the best.
  4. Jun 19, 2013
    1989's Do The Right Thing Is My Eighth Favorite Film Of All Time, It's My Fourth Favorite Drama Film, My Favorite Spike Lee Film And My Second Favorite Universal Pictures Film. Expand
  5. Less_Success
    Aug 2, 2006
    This is great movie simply because everything is so grey. It will have you considering who is right or wrong for days after you see it for the first time. It really forces you to examine a difficult situation and decide for yourself who you think made the right decisions. Expand
  6. Jul 5, 2012
    In Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee has painted an astonishingly honest and human depiction of racial prejudice and ignorance. Lee presents us with a multitude of complex characters from a wide spectrum of racial and cultural backgrounds and portrays their involvement and experiences with race issues on an very personal level.
    The ending in particular was extremely though provoking - we're given no answers to the issues dealt with in the film, and this is in no way a mistake on the director's part, but a deliberate calculation that heightens the effectiveness of the film. The cast is brilliant, especially John Turturro, Giancalro Esposito and Lee himself. Do The Right Thing is a timeless masterpiece with timeless messages and a provocative insight into race relations.
  7. EltonT.
    Sep 23, 2007
    I was forced to watch this movie for a school assignment. I was excited to see it because of the reviews that it had. To say the least I was totally disappointed. I thought it was poorly written and directed. Worse yet the theme of the movie only encourages the rift between races. Expand

See all 39 User Reviews


Related Articles

  1. Ranked: Best and Worst Movies Directed by Their Stars

    Ranked: Best and Worst Movies Directed by Their Stars Image
    Published: June 28, 2011
    Can actors direct themselves? We reveal the best and worst movies in our database that were directed by one of the film's stars, a list that runs from "Do the Right Thing" to "Miss March."