By: Oberst Von Berauscht (A Toast) –
A day in the life of a Brooklyn neighborhood is lived out on the big screen in Spike Lee’s 1989 epic. The story focuses on Mookie, a pizza delivery boy as he goes about his business. He encounters the varied and unique characters who populate the neighborhood and interact with each other. This isn’t a normal day however, as tensions are on the rise along with the summer heat. The stress culminates around Sal’s Pizza, where Mookie works.
“Culminate” might not be a strong enough word…
Spike Lee is a filmmaker whose films have often been criticized for having a hidden agenda. This is an inaccurate assessment as he has never concealed the fact that many of his films exist to open up a dialog about racial and economic tension in America. Do the Right Thing is considered by many critics to be his best film, mostly because of how effectively this movie is in accomplishing its goal.
It’s called “Symbolism”…
Not coming from Brooklyn I cannot say how accurate the dialog is for that time in history. I can however, go so far as to say that everything about the setting, from the way people talk to the choices and actions performed by all the characters feels genuine, and natural. Part of this is due to Lee’s casting of Brooklyn natives.
Standout performances include Ossie Davis, whose role of full-time drunkard and part-time philosopher “Da Mayor” is both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. Giancarlo Esposito is fascinating to watch as Buggin Out, whose self-righteous crusade against Sal’s Pizza is in danger of causing more harm than good. Danny Aiello as Sal the pizza shop owner is one of the most unique characters. He is a tough and hard-headed man, occasionally battling over the sanctity of his Italian Island in the middle of a black neighborhood. And despite this he has roots laid in the neighborhood, and he is determined to stay.
Hosted by Samuel L. Jackson as the local DJ, the music is a full character of its own. With music from Public Enemy, Steel Pulse, Take 6, and Al Jarreau, among many others, it sets the mood of every scene, and eventually becomes an agent of violence. The music also sets the film firmly in the late 80’s; this is a movie that could never be made today.
Because “Iphone Raheem” just doesn’t have the same ring to it…
One of the greatest American films of all time. Do the Right Thing is a historically important slice of life in the big city…
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: each time Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” is played (Drink a whole glass for the opening credits)
Take a Drink: anytime someone yells at someone else (Just kidding, this would kill you)
Drink a Shot: whenever you get the sudden craving for Pizza