Do The Right Thing

Do The Right Thing

****1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

This is ethnic street rap from the heart of Brooklyn, where the radio plays so loud you can't hear glass break, nor feel violence under the skin where homeboys hang out on fire-escapes, communicating mime jive, and everyone eats at Sal's Famous Pizzeria.

It's the hottest day of the summer and the headlines scream HELTER SWELTER. Mookie (Spike Lee) works for Sal (Danny Aiello), delivering to customers. He takes his time; he's a slow mover. Sal's son Pino (John Turturro) hates that. He hates his job, this place. He hates black people.

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His brother Vito (Richard Edson) is easy. Mookie tells him not to let Pino push him around like he does. Pino wants his father to sell up and get out. But, for Sal, the neighbourhood is family, even if it's black; he's watched these kids grow. He's tough and he cares. It's his life.

The old beer swiller (Ossie Davis), in his crushed linen suit, knows better than anyone what it is to live with pride and with colour,

"Always do the right thing," he says.

"That's it?" Mookie says.

"Yeah."

"I got it."

The madness and the badness is everywhere - the dangerous and the foolish, the Korean immigrants with their grocery store, the white cops cruising like sharks, the eccentrics, the egocentrics, the kids shrieking at the water hydrant, the activist ("I'm makin' trouble; I'm a trouble maker"), the girl with ice melting between her breasts.

Writer/director/actor Lee does more than pay homage to a style and a way of life. Beneath the humour and the music and the playful insults is a deep racist distrust and a dark bitter ignorance. The message is clear: hate kills/love heals.

Do it, man!

Reviewed on: 14 Jul 2005
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Do The Right Thing packshot
Racial tensions come to the boil on the hottest day of summer in Brooklyn.
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Director: Spike Lee

Writer: Spike Lee

Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis. Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Spike Lee, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, Rosie Perez, Samuel L Jackson, John Savage, Robin Harris, Steve Park

Year: 1989

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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