7.9/10
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433 user 105 critic

Do the Right Thing (1989)

On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Sal
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Paul Benjamin ...
ML
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Officer Ponte
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Storyline

This film looks at life in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn on a hot summer Sunday. As he does everyday, Sal Fragione opens the pizza parlor he's owned for 25 years. The neighborhood has changed considerably in the time he's been there and is now composed primarily of African-Americans and Hispanics. His son Pino hates it there and would like nothing better than to relocate the eatery to their own neighborhood. For Sal however, the restaurant represents something that is part of his life and sees it as a part of the community. What begins as a simple complaint by one of his customers, Buggin Out - who wonders why he has only pictures of famous Italian-Americans on the wall when most of his customers are black - eventually disintegrates into violence as frustration seemingly brings out the worst in everyone. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can...

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

21 July 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heatwave  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$27,545,445 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director of Photography Ernest R. Dickerson determined they'd have to shoot on an East-West street in Manhattan, so that the light would be constant on both sides of the street. See more »

Goofs

When Mookie delivers a pizza right after the Bugging Out/Sal incident, Smiley is seen just outside the window of the Pizzeria on the left, as Mookie leaves with the pizza, and turns right. When Mookie arrives in the apartment building to deliver the pizza, Smiley meets him walking down the stairs. It is implausible that Smiley could have been in those two places within the time period shown. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mister Senor Love Daddy: Wake up! Wake up! Up you wake!
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Connections

Referenced in Smart Guy: Big Picture (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Lift Every Voice and Sing
Music and Lyrics by James Weldon Johnson and Rosamond Johnson
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Boiling Point
8 December 2006 | by (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

A scorching summer day brings racial tensions to their boiling point in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Seen through many points of view Spike Lee paints a convincing and critical picture of tensions in the most diverse city in the USA.

The film's strength is its ability to ring true to many sets of ears and especially if you frequent or live in a big city. You always here of events - big and small - on the news and there is usually that element of "racial tensions" or "possible racial motive." In a city where over 200 different languages are spoken (which can give you an idea of how many distinguishable cultures there are) it is only a natural ingredient for friction between people. Whether you hate the other guy, or are just annoyed that you can't understand him nor he you, when all you want to do is buy some groceries. This film shows many situations of this type and how everyone is, in a sense, innocent and guilty at the same time. If a situation gets out of hand and you have people throwing slurs at each other there is that famous expression: "he crossed the line." Well even with critical hindsight, this "line" isn't always visible and when it is, it's faint.

Spike Lee manages to show that very well and with a lot of diverse characters, hence the film being able to ring true with an equally diverse audience.

The only problem is that in today's America the issue is more about class and not just race, though race and class are intertwined. "Crash" presented the issue of class and lifestyle a little bit more thoroughly, but in the end felt preachy and unrealistically sentimental. "Do the Right Thing" is much tighter and the film's climax and overall impact is more powerful. Also of the note is the terrific acting from the entire cast. --- 9/10

Rated R for profanity and some violence


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