AFI's Top 100 Movies Movies

Do The Right Thing (96) Review

I watched “Do The Right Thing” (1989) many years ago, shortly after it came out on video tape. (Yep, I said TAPE. I’m that old.) To my then 19 year old self, while I understood the importance of directors like Spike Lee and John Singleton having a voice in Hollywood and being able to get their vision on film, I just didn’t really like the movie. It was believable and ugly, but in my memory some of the stereotypes were exaggerated to an offensive level. Maybe that is part of why I didn’t like it, as I felt that my friends and co-workers in downtown D.C. were unkindly represented.

I don’t think I could ever define why back then, but now I would also guess that since I loved “Boyz n the Hood” (1991), it may have been the lack of seriousness in “DtRT” that I found lacking. They both tackled very serious issues, but the more dramatic and serious tone of “BntH” really resonated and made a big impact on me.

On re-viewing, I was surprised that there was a lot I don’t remember having seen before, and I greatly enjoyed the movie this time around. There are so many extremely talented actors and actresses in the movie, which I remembered, but the rest of it was as if I’d only seen clips previously. I’m guessing my (hopefully) more mature viewpoint is able to process it all better, but I found the story to be much more compelling then I remember. The exaggeration is still there, however experience has taught me that sometimes people really *are* that unbelievably stereotypical. They are few and far between, but they do exist. And the extreme level of bigotry on all sides is crucial to this story.

The acting is fantastic, across the board. I remembered that the woman that played Mookie’s sister in the movie is his sister in real life, mainly because the physical resemblance between them. I found her role small but important, as a strong female that continually urged him along the path toward adulthood and maturity. His girlfriend was so negative in her behavior towards him, that even though she was telling him to grow up, there is no way that message could be heard and absorbed.

Our nineteen year old son watched it with us, to my great surprise. He really LOVES movies, but I was still shocked when he logged out of World of Warcraft at 11 pm to watch it with us. He really enjoyed the film, although he wasn’t interested in a deep discussion about it. We’re holding off on “Pulp Fiction” (number 94)  until the weekend, so he can watch that with us also. I cannot WAIT to see what he thinks of that one!

Coming up next for Chooch and I is number 95, “The Last Picture Show”. We are so far behind Christiana and Mike that I wonder if we’ll ever catch up, but we’ll keep trying!

2 replies on “Do The Right Thing (96) Review”

DtRT is a really great movie. Though the intro is insane and is a constant joke with me and my films friends. “Fight the power” is still a awesome song.

“The Last Picture Show” is a amazingly modern movie and really captures small towns dying that I don’t know any other film truly captures. It also has amazing coming of age stories and how some people who seem destined for greatness can be held back by one small but horrible mistake.


I agree with all you’ve said here, and would love your opinions on the review I wrote. The hopelessness really overwhelmed, especially in contrast to the movies it’s sandwiched between on the AFI List – Do The Right Thing and Pulp Fiction.

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