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Do the Right Thing Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    This is a fascinating movie experience. [30 June 1989, Life, p.1D]

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    It comes closer to reflecting the current state of race relations in America than any other movie of our time.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Sheila Benson

    Stirred up impassioned debate everywhere; it would seem the greatest compliment that could be paid a stunning entertainment. [30 June 1989, Calendar, p.6-1]

  • 100

    out of 100

    The New York Times Vincent Canby

    A remarkable piece of work. [30 June 1989]

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Gene Siskel

    This is a sumptuous work, from its unconventional title sequence of a woman dancing hard in the streets to its provocative ending with conflicting quotes from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr .[30 June 1989, Friday, p.A]

  • See all Do the Right Thing reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Spike Lee's masterwork of racial unrest; discuss with kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Spike Lee film is an intense study of racism as it existed in an urban U.S. neighborhood during the late 1980s. There are many angry racial confrontations using provocative, coarse language and highly-charged racial taunts, including constant use of "n----r."  Violence realistically depicted includes: a riot, fistfights, a crowd setting fire to a restaurant, a man being choked by police using a baton. One sexual scene shows a couple during foreplay and uses extreme close-ups of a woman's body parts: her legs, her breasts, her neck. A leading character drinks beer continuously.

  • Families can talk about how Spike Lee shaped his unique vision. Why does the story take place over one day? Why do you think Lee made the weather such an important part of the story?
  • Some scenes have characters talking directly into the camera... how does that help tell the story?
  • Take a look at the different characters' relationships with music: Sal's Italian heroes, Radio Raheem's obsession with hip-hop. How does the music represent the characters' view of the world?
  • Since this movie was made (1989), do you think there's more or less racial prejudice in the U.S.? What has changed? What hasn't changed? Are there new and/or different groups facing such bigotry?

The good stuff
  • message true-1

    Messages: Blame and anger lie just below the surface of civility in humankind. That blame and anger often take the form of racial prejudice and, no matter what previous relationships have been formed, decency and morality disappear when basic, crueler instincts are set free.

  • rolemodels true-1

    Role models: There are no heroes in this film. Every character is flawed to some degree.  People cope with life in myriad ways: withdrawal, alcohol abuse, overt anger, disappearance into music or history, or exhibiting a persistent, self-destructive urge for confrontation. When pushed to the brink, the universal response for these characters is to strike out, to fight, and to destroy.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: A fire hydrant sends gushing water into a crowd, nearly causing a riot when police and fire fighters turn their high-pressure hoses on those who've gathered. Several tense scenes are played when groups of angry Brooklyn residents confront and threaten each other. Finally, the entire neighborhood erupts as barely-controlled, intensifying fury sets blacks against whites. The street is ablaze with violence: a man is killed when police put him in a choke hold; rioters set fire to a business; vicious fist fights take place, as well as an attack with a baseball bat.

  • sex false3

    Sex: One seduction scene in which a couple engages in repeated kisses, followed by extreme close-ups as the man begins to undress his female partner and then seductively runs ice over her bare breasts, legs, and thighs.

  • language false5

    Language: From beginning to end, the harsh and offensive language is non-stop. The f-word in various forms is heard literally hundreds of times. Also constant use of "motherf----r," "s--t," "ass," "hell."  Racial slurs are frequent with taunts and insults to Italians, Jews, Puerto Ricans, and above all, African-Americans. The "n" word is heard persistently. 

  • consumerism false-1

    Consumerism: Miller Hi Life Beer.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Beer drinking in various scenes. A leading character begins drinking beer very early in the morning and is intoxicated throughout the film.