Edition of Spike Lee Classic Now Available on DVD
Do the Right
Rated R for profanity, violence and ethnic
DVD Review by Kam Williams
Excellent (4 stars)
The incendiary tale unfolds in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn over the course of the hottest day of the year in New York City. The searing heat and high unemployment rate has some self-appointed leaders in the African-American community confronting the Italian owner (Danny Aiello) of a pizzeria about why he should have a restaurant in a neighborhood with so few black-owned businesses. And the simmering tensions eventually erupt into a sobering, thought-provoking finale.
Watching Do the Right Thing afresh in this presumably "post-racial" Age of Obama, one can't help but wonder whether the issues raised remain relevant or if they can now only be appreciated for their nostalgic value. After all, the new debate as the euphoria over having the first black president subsides is the question if Obama is suddenly serving for self-satisfied whites as a symbol of integration and homogenization yet to be realized for the bulk of black folks.
Danny Aiello landed an Oscar-nomination for his stellar work as Sal, although the picture also features quite a number of powerful performances, most notably Spike's as Mookie, Giancarlo Esposito as Buggin' Out, Bill Nunn as Radio Raheem and Samuel L. Jackson as Mister Senior Love Daddy. The same can be said about John Turturro and Richard Edson who play Aiello's sons.
Rosie Perez made her screen debut here as Mookie's nasal baby mama, Tina, as did Martin Lawrence as Cee. And a couple of since-deceased legends are among the cast, namely, the venerable Ossie Davis and comedian Robin Harris.
The film also benefited from the production design of Wynn Thomas, who would go on to projects including "She's Gotta Have It" (1986), “Do the Right Thing” (1989), “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990), “Malcolm X” (1992) and “Inside Man” (2006). Other credits include Robert De Niro’s directorial debut “A Bronx Tale” (1993), “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” (1995), Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks!” (1996), “Wag the Dog” (1997), “Analyze This” (1999), Ron Howard’s “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) and “Cinderella Man” (2005), “Get Smart” (2008), “All Good Things” (2010) and the upcoming “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” currently in post-production.
A riveting drama which remains just as intense as when it
debuted a generation ago.
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