Jason Bourne might be back this weekend, but there’s one return that we’re a little more excited about: Spike Lee, who has a new feature-length drama in theaters for the first time since 2008’s “Miracle At St. Anna.” And while that picture was a sprawling, World War II epic, his latest, “Red Hook Summer,” is a return to the kind of films that he made his name with, a small-scale drama about life on the streets of Brooklyn. And while it has divided critics a little, our own review came out firmly on the positive side of things.
“Red Hook Summer” doesn’t just see Lee returning behind the camera, it also sees him in front of it, as the film features a small cameo from Mookie, the lead character the filmmaker played in “Do The Right Thing,” who’s still, as it turns out, delivering pizzas. Considering the ending of “Do The Right End Thing” this does point to a major resolution of that film’s angry, cynical, but still open-ended conclusion (quotes from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King also stress that divide). We talked to Lee earlier in the week (you can read about some of his upcoming projects here, and keep your eyes peeled for the full interview later today), and asked him to fill in some of the gaps of what happened to Mookie, and his old boss Sal (whose pizzas made a cameo appearance in 2006’s “Inside Man“) between the fiery end of “Do The Right Thing” and “Red Hook Summer,” over twenty years later.
“Sal left Bed Stuy,” Lee told us, before adding, with laughter, “If he would have known it’d be gentrified he would have stayed. Sal, with insurance money, rebuilt his place from the ground up, in Red Hook. And he was having trouble with the Mexicans he hired, they just couldn’t deliver like Mookie. They always get the wrong address, pizza’s cold, people complaining. So Sal called Mookie, who’s unemployed at the time. And Mookie said ‘I’ll think about it, [but] you’ve got to make sure that me and Pino (John Turturro‘s character in the 1989 film) are straight’ What really made Mookie take the job is that Sal finally put sisters and brothers up on the wall.”
We suspect that “Red Hook Summer” is the closest we’ll get to a full sequel to “Do The Right Thing,” but it’s still fascinating to learn that Mookie and Sal came to terms and that Lee has this all worked out for what amounts to a fairly brief cameo. You can catch Mookie back on the big screen starting Friday, August 10th, when “Red Hook Summer” starts to roll out in theaters.
– Interview by Rodrigo Perez