Plot: A day in the lives of a handful of Brooklynites on Stuyvesant Street. It's so hot. How hot is it? It's so hot that it can melt the melting pot! Racial tensions burble.
A recipe for disaster--an Italian-run pizzeria with no pictures of black people on the walls, some old-school blacks who have been there and done that several times over, some new-school disillusioned punks, a guy with a boom box and only one song, Korean grocers, a sprinkling of Hispanics. Mix all ingredients in a large pepper pot with two quarts of water over intense heat. Season with Chuck D. and Flavor Flav screaming things about Elvis at you.
Speaking of Public Enemy, I wonder if "Fight the Power" won or was at least nominated for Best Song. And speaking of the songs, here's some interesting trivia: I noticed that left-handed pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee did the musical score for Do the Right Thing. Unless (and this is doubtful) there's another Bill Lee out there.
This movie has an infectious energy that is impossible not to love, from the Rosie Perez dance off against herself during the opening credits to the powerful and devastating denouement. It's alive, alive in a refreshing way. The amount of color rivals Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and I'm not just referring to Samuel L. Jackson's array of hatwear. The neighborhood's drenched in color, like some little kids got a hold of a box of Crayolas (the bulbous 900 crayon box) and just went nuts. The characters are colorful, too. Stuttering Smiley, weirdly contrasting with the backdrops in almost every shot he's in. Ossie Davis's Da Mayor brings his street wisdom and contradictions. Sal and his sons, Sister Mama, Mookie, Radio Raheem. The latter, by the way, reminds me of a young me actually. When I was in middle school, I carried around a boom box and blasted my Spike Jones and the City Slickers "Best Of" cassette. Also, my peers used to call me Sweet Dick, so this movie brings back all kinds of memories for me. But I digress. Such colorful characters, and the actors who bring them to life are terrific. For three-fourths of the film, we're treated (and it is a treat!) to comic vignettes, the story bouncing rapidly from character to character. I loved seeing the characters roaming about in the background when it wasn't their turn to be the center of attention, too. But there's this building, underlying intensity, this anger bubbling beneath all those colors, so the climax, even though it successfully shocks and disturbs, isn't totally surprising. Finally, I was impressed with the deft camerawork in this one. There were some really creative camera angles, and I liked how smoothly the camera maneuvered through the characters on Stuyvesant Street. It slides with grace, especially impressive when showing conflict. The scene with Smiley hanging up that picture borders on "Too Much," but I think it's powerful, leaving things wonderfully foggy. This movie is stupid fresh!
I'll save discussions about the movie's message for the comments.