She’s Gotta Have It heralded the arrival of a new voice in cinema, the first film from now-iconic filmmaker Spike Lee. Made on a shoestring budget of $175,000, the film follows the romantic conundrums surrounding young, attractive New Yorker Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Jones), who is simultaneously dating three very different men: sensitive and caring Jamie Overstreet (Tommy Redmond Hicks), narcissistic male model Greer Childs (John Canada Terrell), and basketball-obsessed bicycle messenger Mars Blackmon (played by Lee himself). Nola’s free-thinking, sexually liberated attitudes take a hit when all three men meet and compare notes about their respective relationships/experiences with Nola, leading her to some unexpected soul-searching.
More correctly categorized as a dramedy than a straight comedy, She’s Gotta Have It‘s funniest bits come courtesy of Lee’s character and his hilarious mile-a-minute chatter. That’s evident from what is arguably the film’s most memorable moment: when Mars calls up Nola for a birthday booty call. She blows him off (because she’s in bed with Jamie), leading Mars to beg, “Please, baby, please, baby, please baby, baby, please.” When he’s rebuffed, Mars is then seen phoning another woman to make the same request. Lee revisited his first project in 2017 with the Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It, which updated the concept to the present, casting new actors as Nola and her trio of suitors.