Salvatore "Sal" Fragione is the Italian owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn. A neighborhood local, Buggin' Out, becomes upset when he sees that the pizzeria's Wall of Fame exhibits only Italian actors. Buggin' Out believes a pizzeria in a black neighborhood should showcase black actors, but Sal disagrees. The wall becomes a symbol of racism and hate to Buggin' Out and to other people in the neighborhood, and tensions rise.
_**When someone does the wrong thing and others react the wrong way**_ On a hot summer day in a predominantly black neighborhood in Brooklyn, one person makes the wrong decision and sets off a chain of events that results in havoc. Rosie Perez is a highlight on the feminine front. “Do the Right Thing” was Spike Lee’s breakthrough film that he made when he was 31. It’s a stylish and spirited account of a mostly black community in New York City that’s well-rounded with drama, humor, entertainment, honesty and tragedy. On the one hand, this neighborhood seems like a pleasant enough place to live, if you don’t mind the big city. The characters are not painted as one-dimensional, generally speaking; they have both attributes and faults. Yet it’s a relatively peaceable environment with the various races/ethnicities getting along just fine with only minor (and amusing) altercations. Nevertheless, it’s a tinderbox that doesn’t take much to set aflame. The last act leaves a bad taste. I can’t believe Lee had the gonads to be this honest, but he shows why most people don’t want to live or do business in black neighborhoods, including many blacks. While people debate who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s simple to figure out: Buggin Out taking offense about something immaterial at Sal’s pizzeria is unjustified. If he thinks it’s that big of a deal he doesn’t have to dine there, plus he can start his own restaurant and decorate it however he wishes. At the same time, it could be argued that Sal should’ve reacted in a wiser way that turned away Buggin Out’s curious anger, rather than augment it. Meanwhile Radio Raheem makes a foolish decision by allowing Buggin Out to negatively influence him. Why can’t they just do the right thing? It’s frustrating. This is a well-made classic and worthy of its iconic status, it’s just not exactly my cup of tea due to the exasperating last act that’s too brutally honest. How about doing the right thing by making art that inspires hope, unity and healing for inner city communities? This piece points to the problem, inspires questions & debates, but offers no solutions except… move away from black neighborhoods. The film runs 2 hours and was shot in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. GRADE: B-