Spike Lee Does The Right Thing…..

In Movies on September 23, 2012 at 11:49 am

….YUCK YUCK YUCK punning aside Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” is a funny, dramatic, unnerving, and fantastic movie. Unnerving because like “Crash” a majority of the characters in this movie identify one another disparagingly by their racial background which although seemingly unrealistic does very well happen when people are pushed to their brink.

“Do the Right Thing” takes place in BedStuy New York during the 1980s on the hottest day of the year and revolves around Sal’s Famous Pizzeria which is run by Salvatore ‘Sal” Fragione, played Danny Aiello and his two sons,Vito and Pino played by Richard Edson and John Turtorro, respectively. Mookie, played by Spike Lee, is their pizza boy who doesn’t appear interested in doing his job but would rather visit with his girlfriend Tina, played by Rosie Perez, catch up with his friend, Buggin Out, played by Giancarlo Esposito, taking advice from the Mayor, who gives him the advice of doing the right thing, and is incredibly portrayed by Ossie Davis, and see what song Radio Raheem is blasting, played by Bill Nunn .  With interactions between Korean, African-American, Latin, and Italian individuals increasing in their ferocity things finally explode  nearing the end of the film.

Now unto the actual review!

When this movie was first released, critics believed that it would be the catalyst to inciting African-Americans to rioting, which didn’t happen, if anything the moral of the movie is not to riot, and Spike Lee was very critical of these reviews. I can understand the critics feelings because race is so prevalent within this film, in one scene many of the characters have their own monologues using racial slurs to critique various races, but people aren’t as stupid as many of these critics believed them to be. This movie is trying to show the relationships between races and how the teachings of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X affected these relationships.

In the ending of the film, Smiley, played by Roger Guenveur Smith, pins a picture of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King on the wall of the pizza place and Spike Lee displays two quotes from King and X which both illustrate very different ways to accomplish the same thing, racial equality. “Do the Right Thing” appears to illustrate what would happen if people acted according to Malcolm X’s theories, utilizing violence to accomplish racial equality, and shows just how flawed it is. I thought this movie was intelligent for this. It’s as if Lee was depicting a racial experiment using Malcolm X’s ideas and showing the results of this experiment.

Another aspect I liked about this film was Lee’s character Mookie, whose name is surprisingly close to monkey and moulee, a derogatory Italian word  for African-Americans. Because of this, I wonder why Lee chose this name. I also wonder why Lee had his character constantly begrudging work and his responsibilities. Was Mookie a critique of the modern African-American male? Was Lee showing the world what happens when you are irresponsible and live to only “make that money” ?I can’t say but it definitely made me think, which is what I really love from my movies.

In summary, you should see this movie. It was well written, poignant, and shoved racial issues in the viewer’s face. If my roommates didn’t already own this movie, I would buy it and you should too.


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