“Red Hook Summer” was slammed by Sundance movie critics following an expletive-filled rant at the Sundance screening by the film’s maker, Spike Lee. Actor Chris Rock sparked the rant after he asked Lee how the movie would have looked if it had been made by a big studio.
“We never went to the studios with this film, Chris,” he said. “I told you, we’re gonna do this motherfucking film ourselves!… I didn’t want to hear no motherfucking notes from the studio telling me … about what a young 13-year-old boy and girl would do in Red Hook. F*ck no.”
Speaking about studio execs, Lee shouted: “They know nothing about black people. Nothing!”
“Red Hook Summer” is a tale of a well-to-do black teen from Atlanta who is sent to spend a summer in Brooklyn with a grandfather he doesn’t really know. Lee asked the audience to spread the word that his film is not a sequel to “Do The Right Thing”. Critics didn’t see it that way, however, and ripped “Red Hook Summer” for being one of Spike Lee’s least greatest works. Here’s a sample of what they had to say:
Robert Levin of The Atlantic: “….Dreams of vintage Lee’s return go sadly unfulfilled, however, as the film is a long-winded, rambling mess. Far from a personal, character-driven production, the movie offers Lee’s grandiose take on what it means to be African American in the 21st century (with an assist from co-writer James McBride). There’s a lot to be said for such an enterprise, particularly when it comes from the mind of one of our premiere social chroniclers. But this is a 135-minute harangue, not a movie.”
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter: “…But Lee’s latest rambles through almost two hours of unfocused drama, burdened with endless didactic editorializing, before lurching out of nowhere into ugly revelations and violence.”
Peter Debruge of The Chicago Tribune: “For those expecting Mookie’s mid-career encore to signify a return to Spike Lee’s roots, Red Hook Summer instead surprises — and to some extent delights — as yet another radically unique entry in the director’s iconoclastic oeuvre. Lee’s vibrant coming-of-ager isn’t so much a follow-up to ‘Do the Right Thing’ as a fresh survey of the same geographic turf, following a well-to-do black teen forced to spend the summer with his Bible-thumping grandfather in the Brooklyn projects.”
Owen Gleiberman of WE.com: “My own feeling is that if the film had been better, he (Lee) might not have been reduced to griping about the movies the Man won’t let him make. For Red Hook Summer isn’t just a letdown. It’s a bit of an ordeal.”