Parents' Guide to

Do the Right Thing

By Renee Longstreet, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

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

Movie R 1989 120 minutes
Do the Right Thing Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 12+

Genuine representations. Asks profound questions.

What does doing the right thing mean in a racist society? The film doesn’t give easy answers. It helps us think about the question. I disagree with the 1 star rating for “positive role models and representations” and its rationale. The film offers varied and authentic representations of black people. That is something I value. It’s simplistic to frame angry confrontation of racism as a character flaw. Yes, we want young people to know that how we deliver our anger matters. But we also want them to know that the fact that someone delivers their anger in a way that’s hard to hear doesn’t diminish its validity or take away our responsibility to fight against racism.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
2 people found this helpful.
age 2+


I strongly Believe this film should be shown to every child at a very early age to teach them right from the get go about racism. This is probably one of the most realistic films about racism and could of been released yesterday and would of just as relevant as it was in '89!

This title has:

Great messages
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9):
Kids say (7):

Distinctive, memorable characters and a highly original structure contribute to the powerful experience of DO THE RIGHT THING. Spike Lee uses vibrant music, unusual close-ups, bright colors, an abundance of "street language," and breaking the fourth wall (characters speaking directly into the camera) to bring the viewer right into the community of Bedford-Stuyvesant on a simmering, seething day. Lee and his brilliant actors, working from his own dynamic screenplay, create that world exactly as it might have been in the late 1980s (or might still be). He offers no judgments on what takes place and, as a result, the viewer must come to his or her own conclusions. The movie is stark, perhaps insightful, and often very poignant.

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