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Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" marks 25th anniversary

Who's hungry for some pizza?

It's been 25 years since Spike Lee's seminal "joint" about race, "Do the Right Thing," was first released into theaters on June 30, 1989.

Many critics and journalists decried the film when it was first released, fearing Lee's work would incite riots within the African American community. That turned out not to be the case, and instead the film has been celebrated over the years as Lee's magnum opus and one of the best-made dramas ever to tackle themes involving bigotry and hatred.

In 2007, "Do the Right Thing" was cited by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest films of all time. The late Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Roger Ebert also listed it as one of the best films ever made.

"I have been given only a few filmgoing experiences in my life to equal the first time I saw 'Do the Right Thing,'" Ebert wrote in 2001. "Most movies remain up there on the screen. Only a few penetrate your soul."

Lee wrote the screenplay (for which he would later score a best original screenplay Oscar nod) in less than two weeks. In addition to serving as screenwriter and director, he also acted in the film as pizzeria worker Mookie, who finds himself torn between his employer, Sal (Danny Aiello in an Academy Award-nominated performance) and the primarily-black residents who make up their Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Lee will make an appearance this weekend at a block party event on Stuyvesant Avenue between Quincy Street and Lexington Avenue, where the film was shot, to mark the quarter-century anniversary.

He has been a vocal critic lately, however, of the changes caused by gentrification in the neighborhood.

During a Q&A panel event in Brooklyn in February, Lee strongly criticized the notion that areas like Bed-Stuy would only improve with the arrival of white residents.

"I grew up here in New York, it's changed," Lee said. "And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the South Bronx and Harlem and Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights for the facilities get better?"

He added, "I mean, they just move in the neighborhood. You just can't come in the neighborhood. I'm for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can't just come in when people have a culture that's been laid down for generations and you come in and now sh-- gotta change because you're here?"

The neighborhood isn't the only thing that's changed over the years.

Take a look at our photo gallery at left to see what the film's stars, like Rosie Perez and Frankie Faison, have been up to since Mookie first threw that garbage can at Sal's Pizzeria.

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