Review: Red Hook Summer

Is this really a Spike Lee Joint?

That was one of many questions¹ posed during the first two minutes of Spike Lee’s “Red Hook Summer,” a coming of age story that chronicles a young boy’s summer vacation inside the Brooklyn housing projects with his gravely religious grandfather.

As the sixth film in Lee’s “Chronicles of Brooklyn” series, “Red Hook” is the by and large the worst volume of the bunch, and a shameful offering from someone who has been in the game for over two decades. From the sophomoric script that offers no return on the viewer’s investment to the deplorable acting that makes one feel like they’ve stumbled into the audition room for their high school play, everything about “Red Hook” is harrowing and trite. Is this really the best effort from the man that gave us Malcolm X?

While the film touches on important social issues, a birthright in most of Lee’s films, the caricature nature in which his characters are portrayed absorbs the message that’s trying to be conveyed, so much so, that even signature stylistic elements and a poorly constructed climax²are unable to rescue the sinking ship. Fortunately, Clarke Peters makes the most of the scraps he’s given and manages to turn in a stunning performance as the Good Bishop, ultimately carrying the entire film on his back. Nate Parker also turns in his usual grade A standard but his talents are unfortunately wasted here.

Far from being the cinematic triumph that “Do The Right Thing³” was and still is, Lee can’t help but reference his glory days several times throughout the film, even offering up a cameo at one point. Unfortunately, the cameo does nothing to serve the story and does everything to prove that Lee should’ve done the right thing and left this entire film on the cutting room floor.

My Grade: 4/10


¹Others included, “Is this a student film?” “Was this script found on the floor of Tyler Perry’s office?” “Is mental water boarding a thing?”
² Had it been done right, the climax could’ve been the film’s saving grace. Unfortunately, by the time it revealed itself any hope for the film had been long gone.
³Initially “Red Hook Summer” was thought to be a sequel of some sorts to “Do The Right Thing;” the idea was shot down profusely by Lee – possibly because he knew of the film’s awfulness?

2 Responses to “Review: Red Hook Summer”

  1. Great to see you back. I hope that your new year is going great! =)

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