For as much as Spike Lee too often cries foul, Do The Right Thing’s omission from the AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies List, motivated by whatever reason, is indeed a grievous error in judgment. Especially in light of the fact that Pulp Fiction, a fun movie that’s, well, pulp, made the cut.
Do The Right Thing is remarkably even-handed in its appraisal of the causes and effects of racism. The only group that doesn’t get a fair shake in this film is the cops. Fault lies just as much with Mookie as it does with Sal and Radio Raheem and Buggin’ Out. The only true hero is Da Mayor, and he’s a relunctant hero at best.
Bed-Stuy, on the hottest day of the year, becomes a pressure cooker for bigotry and ultimately violence as tensions mount and tempers flare on the street, in the Korean grocery and at Sal’s Pizzeria. Structured as an episodic house of cards, each scene is memorable as a self-contained short, building to the explosive finale and the most poignant scene. The morning after the riot, Sal and Mookie confront each other on the street. Surrogate father and son torn asunder and unable to express their love for each other, Mookie and Sal merely throw a wad of cash back and forth. “I only make two-fitty, Sal.”
Well-acted (even by Spike) and brilliantly shot by Ernest Dickerson, Do The Right Thing is funny and sexy and angry and sweet and, above all, New York City in the summer-hot. And those primary colors! Gorgeous.
DVD BONUS MATERIALS:
In the words of Radio Raheem “Put some mozzarella on them mothaf*cking sh*ts.” This DVD wastes a great opportunity.