Do the Right Thing (R) - 1989 - Runtime 120 minutes
Starring: Spike Lee, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Danny Aiello, John Turturro
Director: Spike Lee
It's been twenty years since this movie came out and while, for the most part this movie holds up, I would like to be naive and think that the issues addressed in this movie have not necessarily been resolved, but at least are not as prevalent or bad. Call me naive and/or ignorant, but I'd like to think that this movie couldn't possibly have dreamed of America having a black president. I don't think time has diminished the significance of this movie - it's almost just as important to understand the racial tensions in this movie now than it was back in 1989.
For those ignorant of the plot - it takes place in a small section of Brooklyn on one of the hottest days of summer. We follow Spike Lee's character, Mookie, around as we see everyday life unfold in this part of America. There's quite a bevy of characters that float in and out of the movie, but the center of the story is Sal's Pizzeria that Mookie works for as a deliverer. It's hard to explain the plot more than that without going into a long paragraph, but tensions are running high and things only get worse as the day goes on. It's a great story and filled with some great characters. I really enjoyed what Lee did for the most part. Although I will have to dock some points for the opening credits - it's just Rosie Perez dancing around in leotards and boxing. It's not quite the set up to what the movie is and seems rather silly and out of place compared to the ending of the movie.
But the main question (that only white people ask, according to Spike Lee) is did Mookie do the right thing? I will spoil some things here to explain! Mookie decides to take a trash can to the pizzeria after one of his friends gets killed by the cops. It basically sets in motion the riot and the eventual torching of the place. It's quite chaotic and you're left wondering if only... But I don't think that's the right question. Everyone is at fault in this whole story - I don't think anyone did the right thing - everyone was partly to blame.
This is probably the best thing about the movie - you can have a serious discussion about the issues addressed. I would like to watch it again and see what other people's opinions are about how they feel. It's not a divisive movie, in fact I think it's quite the opposite. It can lead to great discussions and honest dialogue about racial issues and community. Not only was this a great movie, it's also an important one and something that shouldn't be missed!
Rating: Rent It!