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November 2010 Archives

Celeb Scoop: Kelsey Chow
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kelsey1.jpgAlthough 19-year-old Kelsey Chow made her mark as Gigi in "One Tree Hill" and now co-stars in the Disney XD hit "Pair of Kings," she's not your typical teen TV queen. Coming from a background in dance and musical theatre, she spends her non-Hollywood time studying Global Health and Community Theatre at Columbia University in New York and actively volunteering with several important causes. Kelsey is definitely someone to watch AND a great role model too (they don't always go together, right?). We think she'll be around for a while! That's why it was extra-fun for us to chat with her recently about her past, present, and future. 

IML: How are you similar to your "Pair of Kings" character Mikayla, and how are you different?
 
Kelsey: We are both optimistic, loyal, and persistent, but Mikayla is much stronger physically and martial arts savvy than I am!!
 
IML: How have your experiences on "Pair of Kings' been different from your experiences on "One Tree Hill"?
 
Kelsey: "One Tree Hill" was my first television experience, so naturally I was nervous initially. There is no rehearsal, you get your script a few days ahead, and you work. I was also the youngest actor, 13, on set at that time, but it was amazing to be able to "learn the ropes" with such a supportive group of people. "Pair of Kings" is so much fun, literally.  It is a very physical show with loads of stunts and green screen work, and you never know what great adventure is ahead of you! It's also a nice change in terms of being of similar ages to Doc Shaw and Mitchel Musso. It is a family, with Geno and Ryan making it complete!
 
IML: You've been involved with theatre and dance for years. What did you feel it added to your life as you were growing up? 
 
Kelsey: Dance and theatre afforded me the opportunity to discover my passion for acting, for telling stories. Being a part of these productions helped me to develop specific skills,  discipline, and confidence. It also gave me the opportunity to work with extraordinarily talented people of all ages and backgrounds.
 
IML: We always ask this question...What were you like in middle school?
 
kelsey2.jpgKelsey: I was very shy and I did want to be accepted. It's a very important time because I was just beginning to discover who I am. That's why it is so important to have good friends who support you and who are positive influences. Never let someone else define who you are. It's a very sensitive time when you first begin to realize that people can be unkind and judge you for what you wear, who you hang out with, and cultural differences. It can be difficult, so find something you love to do, and learn to do it well. You will find another support group and goals to work toward.  It will help you develop confidence and strength.
 
IML: That's excellent advice! We hear you've done some work with the Red Cross and the Jed Foundation. Can you tell us about these causes and why you support them?
 
Kelsey: Yes, I've recently become involved in Club Red, a new division of the American Red Cross. I have always been so amazed by what the Red Cross is able to accomplish on such short notice, on such a wide scale, and in your community, state, nation, and globally. I'm also very excited about the "It's on My Mind" Campaign with the Jed Foundation/Pepsi Refresh Challenge which is trying to raise awareness of the importance of addressing emotional health of students and young adults across the country.
 
IML: Do you have any role models, both in life and in work? 
 
Kelsey: Definitely! My 94-year-old grandmother has always been so inspiring to me.  She is kind, smart, brave, and independent.  After graduating number one in her medical school class at a time when it was extremely rare for women to attend medical school, she worked with the World Health Organization in North Africa to eradicate tuberculosis. I have always admired her elegance, her poise, and her inner strength. She lived through some very unstable times in terms of the places and political situations.  It was only recently that we learned that she had also been involved in small theatre productions as a teenager.
 
IML: What do you think it means for a girl to be "strong"?
 
Kelsey: I believe "strong" means to be yourself. To believe in yourself and not let others define you. Set goals, work hard, and realize your dreams.
 
IML: What would people be most surprised to learn about you?

Kelsey: I'm extremely interested in astrology...I read my horoscope every day!

IML: Thanks, Kelsey! Good luck with everything!

Kelsey:
Thank you!


 
Movie Review: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1"
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So, have you seen it yet? We're sure many of you did. It's always fun to catch a big movie like HP7.1 on opening weekend, when the theatre's full of excited fans and everyone's talking about it. What did you think? Here's our opinion!

Heads up: we won't really give away anything about the story or any surprises in the movie, but you still may want to wait until after you've seen it before you read our review.

We liked:

deathly-hallows-still.jpgDaniel, Rupert, and Emma. My, how they've grown. It's hard to believe that we met these three when they were barely tweens. Everything they've been through in real life is a great foundation for them to portray what their characters go through together. We really enjoyed watching them (even though many of the scenes, with Harry, Ron, and Hermione dressed in stylin' winter layers, looked a little like the L.L. Bean catalog) and the movie made us feel like we, the audience, are the fourth member of this evil-fighting team.

Tense drama. Okay, watching this movie was a little stressful for us...but in a good way. There's a lot at stake in the story, and the film does a great job of setting that up. Dangers lurk in every shadow, friendships may or may not stand up to the pressure, and the future of the world is really on the line. Juicy!

Polyjuice comedy. There are some truly wonderful comedic moments here and there to lighten up all that seriousness, and a good number of them come thanks to the appearance-altering effects of polyjuice potion, the liquid disguise kit of the HP world. We laughed out loud at the "multiple Harrys" scene, and really enjoyed all the funny and scary moments when our three heroes assume false identities to infiltrate the Ministry. Not since Hermione accidentally turned herself into a cat-girl in HP2 has a magical potion been this much fun.

Dobby. The character of Dobby the House Elf was played mostly for laughs when he first appeared in HP2, but in this film he proves himself to be an important and unforgettable part of the Harry Potter saga. CG effects have gotten better since we first saw him too, and that helps a lot.

Animation. In an HP movie first, a key part of the story is told with the use of striking, stylized 2-D computer animation. It's an interesting and really cool directorial choice.

Not so much:

Great characters gone AWOL. Harry, Ron and Hermione have always been the "big three" of every Harry Potter film, but in this story they truly go it alone, spending most of their time isolated from the friends, teachers, and family members who have helped them out in the past. This was actually one of our biggest gripes about the book, too. We can't help but want to see what's going on with Hagrid, Professor McGonigle, Neville Longbottom, Fred and George...all of whom have very small cameos or are absent completely. Some of our favorite moments from the past six films came from these characters, and to leave them out feels a bit like leaving out all the sugar and spice from a recipe...it's still as filling, but not as tasty. We'll just have to wait until Part 2 to see them again!

No Hogwarts. We get barely a glimpse of our favorite school of witchcraft and wizardry in this half of Book 7. Harry and company can't go back there, of course, because Dumbledore can't protect them anymore and the school, like the ministry, has fallen under the control of the baddies. So we get the reason they have to stay away...but we still don't really like it. Hogwarts has been the heart and soul of the Harry Potter story for six books and six films, and we feel a little lost without the grounded sense of place the great castle provides. It doesn't help that H, R & H spend most of the movie randomly apparating from place to place, making our head spin. There's no room in this story for the typical "high school" fun and romantic dramas that made the last couple flicks so relatable, aside from a few sweet moments between crushes and friends (our favorite was Harry and Hermione dancing). We're a little sad about that, even though we understand.

Wands, wands, wands. This wand, that wand, the other wand...there are just too many wands in this story, which often feels like a big, convoluted game of follow-the-wand.

deathly-hallows-still2.jpgTrying to remember. It's been more than two years since we read the book this movie is based on, and we didn't have time for a refresher before heading to the theater, which is too bad. We spent a lot of our time trying to recall bits of the book so we could appreciate what was happening onscreen, and we were forced to wonder if people who never read the novel could make sense of any of it. It seems like the other movies did a much better job of filling in the important story points for every type of audience member.

Wanting more. Yeah, even given all our criticisms and nit-picking, we really enjoyed this movie because we adore these characters and we know it's setting everything up for the amazing grand HP finale. Ugh, do we really have to wait until summer 2011 to see the rest of it? Oh well..it will give us something to look forward to, and will put off the disappointment we'll inevitably feel when there are no new Harry Potter films to talk about!

IML's Rating: B



"RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles"
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When it comes to favorite musical artists, IML readers are an eclectic bunch. You've filled the YSI boards with messages about everyone from recent pop sensations Justin Bieber and Ke$ha to older, edgier bands like Nirvana, Green Day, and Foo Fighters. But many of you share one band in common: The Beatles.

In the early 1960s, the British quartet of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr revolutionized pop and rock music, songwriting, and the entire concept of fame and celebrity. Even after the group split up in 1970, their music and legacy lived on, influencing nearly all musicians who came after them.

Today, it seems as if the Beatles are just as big as they ever were. "The Beatles Rock Band" video game is a smash-hit best seller with kids and grown-ups alike. Beatles films like "A Hard Day's Night" and "Yellow Submarine" remain incredibly popular, and Beatles t-shirts, posters, and lunch boxes can be found in thousands of shops all over the world. And just this week, Apple's announcement that Beatles music will finally be available on iTunes caused a sensation among fans hungry for MP3s of all their favorite Fab Four songs.

Sadly, the Beatles will never again play together, as only two (Paul and Ringo) remain with us. But the desire among fans of all ages to see Beatles music performed live has led to a worldwide industry of sound-alike or "tribute" bands who can offer audiences the next best thing to a real Beatles concert.

RAIN Ed Sullivan 1 photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.jpgAt the top of the heap of these groups is RAIN, who recently began a run on Broadway and will continue with a tour across North America through the spring of 2011. More than just a concert, "RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles" is a multimedia message of love for Beatles fans, covering the Liverpool group's entire career together and incorporating film clips, projection effects, and a swirling, dazzling light show that makes the most of the amazing songs. IML recently saw the show, and here's what we liked:

All Ages: Some shows appeal to a select audience or specific age group, but RAIN is for everyone. The theater was filled with older folks (likely original Beatles fans), young kids, and everybody in between.

RAIN Shea 1 Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.jpgAttention to Detail: The costumes, the wigs, the instruments, the singing...there's nothing about this show that isn't spot-on and utterly convincing. The four actor/musicians portraying the Beatles take their jobs seriously and do an incredible job of making the audience believe  they might just be watching the real thing. They even shot remakes of classic Beatles news clips that play during the breaks! Of course, for all their professionalism, the guys also seem to be having a great time with their roles.

Not just the Hits: The audience was thrilled to sing along with all the big Beatles number-one hits, but there were some unexpected song choices too. We particularly liked the acoustic set which featured quieter, more contemplative songs like the sweet,  melodic "Mother Nature's Son."

A Happy Audience: If the surest way to judge a show is by audience reaction, then RAIN is a huge success. Kids and adults spent much of the show clapping, dancing, cheering, and screaming, seemingly swept up in old-style "Beatlemania." IML admits it: we got caught up in the spirit too, and shouted the lyrics to many of our favorite songs.

We were happy for the chance to chat with Steve Landes, who plays the role of John Lennon in RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles."

IML: We really enjoyed the show! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. What part of the show is the most fun to perform? What aspect is the most challenging?

Steve: As a Beatles fan, it's fun to recreate some of the actual moments of their career,  that we do, like the Ed Sullivan show and the Shea Stadium concert. I've watched the videos of those shows a million times, and now I get to put myself in those moments, in a sense, so that's fun!

I think the biggest challenge of sounding like The Beatles is getting the vocals just right. Each Beatle was a really good singer, especially Paul and John, so to replicate as accurately as possible their vocals from the recordings, exactly the same way every night, is quite a challenge. But it's something we've worked very hard at over the years, and we came into this as professional musicians and classically tRAINed vocalists, so I think we've got a pretty good handle on it!

Steve Landes solo Army jacket Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.jpgIML:  Is it hard to get into, and then back out of, the John persona?

Steve: Again, I've been doing this for so long (I joined RAIN in 1998), so it's kind of easy now, and it's not like we're 'method' actors or anything like that -- we don't believe we're The Beatles or anything! You won't see us out and about pretending to be them 24/7!! As far as getting his character down, though, it's a matter of learning all I can about him -- his life story, why he did the things he did, thought the things he thought, and learning how to bring that to life onstage. Of course, there are the physical traits, too -- the body language, his way of moving, performing, etc., that help turn me into him onstage!

IML: How did you become a part of the RAIN band and show?

Steve: I was in the touring version of the Broadway show "Beatlemania" years ago, so I kind of knew these guys (they were a part of the "Beatlemania" show before I got in). So, years later, when they needed someone new to portray John, I was one of the people they called to try out. And we all just kinda "clicked" musically and personality-wise.

IML: Have you had any favorite moments interacting with fans?

Steve: I always love to meet fellow Beatles fans -- hardcore Beatle-geeks like myself! Sometimes people will want to call me John or whatever, which I don't mind, but for the most part, people are understanding and just love the music, and are happy that they get to come and hear this great music performed live, so it's nice to chat with them about that sorta stuff after the show.

IML: What kinds of things were you interested in when you were in middle school and high school? Did you always love music?

Steve: I always loved music, and I always loved The Beatles. I was born after The Beatles' time, so I'm what they call a 'second-generation' Beatles fan. I learned about them from my parents, and my older sisters. So they've always been a part of my life. By the time I was in middle and high school, I was playing music and singing in a local Top 40 band, playing the songs that were popular at the time, but we also played some Beatles songs too. I was also into other things in school, of course -- acting, cars, girls! The usual, I guess, but music was always what I wanted to do with my life.

IML: When you take off the costumes and make-up and wigs, do you still resemble John Lennon? Do people come up to you in the street and say, "Hey, you look like a Beatle!"?

Steve: I guess some people might think so a bit, but I don't see it -- I always see me. The main focus of our show has always been replicating the music live, as authentically as possible, and the look-alike factor is secondary, so I'm sure there are probably people out there in the world who might look more like John Lennon, but it's all about being a top-grade singer and musician, and having the ability to recreate his character and music in our show.

IML: What do you do when you're not a part of RAIN? Do you play in other groups?

Steve: We travel all the time, so there's no time for me to have another group. But I write my own music, record it, and then put it up online, so that's a great way to share my own music and still be on the road with RAIN. I live in California , so there's lots to do when I'm not on the road -- movies, the beach, Disneyland ! There's just never enough time to do everything.

IML: If all four Beatles were still with us, do you think there would have been a reunion by now?

Steve: A lot of people don't realize that The Beatles were planning to reunite at the time of John's death. Their business manager Neil Aspinall had been working on an official documentary, which at the time he called "The Long And Winding Road." They have stated that the four of them planned to reunite for the project, so that they could sit together for a series of interviews for it. The project did finally get made, in the '90s, as "The Beatles: Anthology," and the three remaining Beatles Paul, George, and Ringo did the interviews that John would have been a part of.

IML: What contemporary bands or musicians do you like?

Steve: Oh, I like a little bit of everything. I still listen to The Beatles, of course, but I like the bands that they've influenced in one way or another. I like Green Day, who are big Beatles fans. I like John Mayer, Kings Of Leon, Taylor Swift, Neil Finn, Cee Lo. A bit of every style, I think, as long as it's good!

IML: Any advice for young people who want to be musicians or stage performers?

Steve: Never give up! Keep practicing -- it's the only way to get better. But don't lose sight of the outside world. As an artist, you have to connect with the world around you, or you've got nothing to inspire you. Learn from everything and everyone, good or bad. It's just as important to learn what not to do, as well as what to do, in art, in life.

IML: Thanks, Steve! Good luck with the tour!

RAIN are: Joey Curatolo (Paul), Joe Bithorn (George), Ralph Castelli (Ringo), and Steve Landes (John). For more on "RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles," visit www.RAINtribute.com.



"Deathly Hallows" Countdown
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Aaah! What will life be like when we don't have a new "Harry Potter" movie to look forward to? We're trying not to think about it. (Yeah, yeah, we can always re-read the books, and surely there will be other exciting movies on the horizon. "The Hunger Games," anyone?)

Still, it's hard to believe that the seventh and almost-final flick is opening in the U.S. next weekend. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One" is the beginning of the end, of course, but it's also a chance to revisit the cast members who are now as dear to Potter fans as the books themselves. We actually feel a little proud to see how much Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have grown as people and as actors. We're counting down the days and will be back here next week with a review of the shiny new movie. In the meantime, here's a peek at the scene of last night's world premiere at the Odeon Theatre in London's Leicester Square.

What have these films meant to you? Do you keep them separate from the books in your heart and mind? Do you feel like you've grown up with them and they've become a huge part of your life? Do you just go along for the pop cultural ride? What parts of yourself and your own life do you see in these stories? (Not an assignment, just some fun things to ponder and possibly post on our What's On Your Mind? page!)




Webonauts Internet Academy on PBS KIDS GO!
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We spend a lot of our time reading through each and every You Said It post you guys send in. Not because we're nosy (well, we are, but that's beside the point) but because it's our job to make sure our little IML community is respectful, safe, fair, and free of online bullying. Not an easy task! Because we also want everyone to be able to express themselves, whether it's an opinion or a silly idea or venting frustration about something. When does someone's point-of-view become hurtful or mean? That's a good question. If only there were some kind of fun online training that would help all of us learn where the line is...

Oh, wait. Duh. There is one!

webonauts.jpgRecently, our buds at PBS KIDS GO! launched the Webonauts Internet Academy, a really cool site that lets you get your game on while also exploring what it means to be a citizen in this web-is-everywhere, too-much-information world we live in. In the game, you become a new recruit to the Academy and get sent on a training mission (after learning the WIA motto of "Observe, Respect, Contribute" and picking out a uniform) to planet Bambu. During this mission you'll get challenged with issues that are important to being a good cyberspace citizen, like identity‚ privacy‚ credibility and web safety. Check it out!

As our online experiences change with new technology, everyone's sort of making up the rules as we go along. But in the end, how we behave online shouldn't be much different than how we behave in person. When you keep that idea in mind, navigating the wild blue yonder should be just a little bit easier.

Tell us about your experiences: have you ever been bullied online?



 
Book Review: "Do Something!: A Handbook for Young Activists"
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Here's the funny thing about "changing the world": it sounds like a really big, almost impossible job...but it's actually very easy. For instance, you hear that your local animal shelter is overcrowded and having trouble feeding all the dogs and cats. You donate $10 of your allowance money to help them, and that $10 covers the cost of chow for one dog for a week. There. You just changed the world! Okay, it's not like you ended the problem of homeless animals forever, but for that one dog, for that one week, the world was a better place. Thanks to you.

On IML we talk a lot about volunteering and taking action, and that's because we know it's important to so many of you. Getting involved with a cause you care about is a great way to learn new things, make new friends, understand yourself better, feel a little less powerless in life, and generally feel rewarded. Sometimes, though, it's hard to find that thing...the problem or situation that you want to help fix. Or if you already have your thing (lucky you!), sometimes it's tough figuring out where to start.

dosomething_book_cover.jpgThat's why we were really excited when DoSomething.org sent us their new book, called (appropriately) "Do Something!: A Handbook for Young Activists" (by DoSomething.org's CEO and "Chief Old Person" Nancy Lublin, with Vanessa Martir and Julia Steers). It's written especially for tweens who may have trouble finding volunteer opportunities since they don't drive or are limited in what they can do without parental supervision. This spiralbound, easy-to-thumb-through volume has sections called "See It!" (how to figure out what you care most about), "Believe It!" (how to understand the problem better), "Build It!" (mapping out what you want to do), "Do It! (that's kind of self-explanatory), and "Reflect It!" (different ways to look at what you've done and learn from it).

The book is filled with fun quizzes, cool fill-ins, and helpfully specific examples organized by the type of cause. For instance, do you feel most passionate about hunger and homelessness issues? You can get detailed guidelines on how to help by running a fundraising watermelon-eating contest, holding a food drive, or hosting a hunger banquet. We love the way this book is designed and written; it's the kind of thing you could bring to a sleepover and browse through with your friends, or look through with a parent if you want to start a family effort.

IML's Rating: A+

For more ideas, check out our section on Volunteering and other IML'ers comments on the Volunteering You Said It page!

 
DVD Review: "Toy Story 3"
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How do you deal with change? Do you have a hard time coping when your life takes a sharp turn and heads off in a new direction? Do you find it difficult to adjust as you get older, and things turn out to be a lot different from when you were a little kid? Or are these transitions smooth and easy for you? IML'ers talk about these issues a lot. That's one of the reasons why "Toy Story 3" was such a big hit among young people when it was released last summer, and one of the reasons why you might want to check out the new DVD and Blu-ray release. Plus the fact that most tweens and teens today have grown up with the "Toy Story" movies, and in a way, Woody, Buzz, and the gang are their toys too.

toystory3.jpgIn the movie, Andy Davis, the boy who made the toys a huge part of his life, is now a teenager preparing to leave home for his first year of college. Talk about change! But what to do with all those beloved toys that he hasn't played with in years? Woody, Andy's favorite, will get a trip to college to keep Andy company and maybe decorate his dorm room desk. As for the rest, like Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, and Hamm the Piggy Bank...well, Andy just can't bear to throw them out or to put them in the donation box marked for a nearby preschool, so he puts them in a garbage bag and prepares to store them up in the attic. But the toys, thinking that they're destined for the landfill, opt for the preschool box instead, finding themselves, along with would-be rescuer Woody, at a daycare center called Sunnyside filled with kids who will give them plenty of what every toy really wants: playtime. But Sunnyside, as we soon learn, is not as sunny as it seems, and this change in life is not destined to be a positive one for the "Toy Story" posse. Their only chances for a happy future are to find a way out, or change the way things are done at Sunnyside (or maybe both).

So what, you may ask, do we really think about this latest offering from Pixar? Well, we'll tell you!

We Love:

Grown-up Andy. We know from the first two "Toy Story" movies that Andy is a good kid. But in this movie we learn that Andy grew up to be a genuinely nice guy. We also love that Andy is voiced by the same actor who played him in "Toy Story 1" and "Toy Story 2": John Morris, who is all grown up too.

New Toys. The "Toy Story" gang gets bigger with each new movie. The second film gave us Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl and Woody's horse Bullseye, as well as the bad guy named Stinky Pete. This time around we meet a whole new family of toys, owned by a little girl named Bonnie. Among the new toys are Trixie, a goofy, nervous girl triceratops (who seems like a perfect match for another dinosaur toy we know), Mr. Pricklepants, a hedgehog who fancies himself a great actor, a wise-cracking doll named Dolly (what else?), and a sad, embittered clown named Chuckles (again, what else?). We like these new characters a lot, and we're a bit disappointed that they don't get much screen time. We really wanted to see more of them and to see them developed further, but we understand that the older, more popular "Toy Story" characters (who after all carry the story) are the real stars here. So...how about a "Bonnie's Toys" spin-off movie? We'd go see it!

Big Baby. Bonnie's toys aren't the only new characters here.There's also a whole truckload of toys at Sunnyside. Our unlikely favorite is Big Baby, the creepy baby doll enforcer who keeps the toys in line with her menacing lazy-eye stare. Weird, spooky, and funny.

Ken and Barbie. You probably remember Tour Guide Barbie from the last movie, but this time she meets the man of her dreams (or is he?) in the form of the handsome and groovy male fashion doll Ken. Voiced by Michael Keaton, Ken provides a lot of great laughs in the movie, and we're quite frankly blown away that the same actor has now played Batman and a Ken doll.

Guest Stars. There are a lot of cameos and "easter eggs" in Pixar movies for those of you who look closely enough. For instance, did you know that the Pizza Planet delivery truck from the original Toy Story appears in every Pixar film except "The Incredibles"? It's true! There are a bunch of these little extras in "Toy Story 3," but we have two favorites. Sid Phillips, the bad-boy toy abuser from the first "Toy Story" makes a quick and funny appearance as the local garbageman. You can't see his face, but his trademark skull tee-shirt makes it clear that this is Andy's former neighbor. Our other favorite cameo is a toy owned by Bonnie, the little girl who saves Woody from Sunnyside. Among her toy collection is a plush doll of Totoro, from the great Japanese animated movie "My Neighbor Totoro." We at IML are huge fans of Totoro and all the Studio Ghibli movies, and so are the gals and guys at Pixar. They included this cameo as a tribute to their friend, Totoro director Hayao Miyazaki, and we think it's a total treat to see a toy version of Totoro in a "Toy Story" movie.

Day & Night. Most Pixar movies include an opening short cartoon, and the one included with Toy Story 3 is one of our favorites. It's strange, artsy, experimental...and thoroughly delightful. Watch it as an appetizer before the feature or a nice dessert afterwards, but definitely watch it.

DVD Extras. The bonus materials on the DVD and Blu-ray are pretty cool, especially if you're interested in how animation is created. There's an enhanced commentary track that gives us behind-the-scenes stories and cool sketches used in making the movie, as well as some very fun and informative short documentaries that mix making-of footage with shots of all the voice actors laying down the dialogue recordings. One of our faves is the doc that shows how all the real toys, based on the on-screen toys, are made. For you true "Toy Story" fanatics, there's even a two-player interactive trivia game that tests your knowledge of all three films.

Not So Much:

Lotso. We're not going to ruin the end of the story by revealing the fate of Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear, the chief baddie in this story. Let's just say that we were kinda hoping for something else, and that we're not sure we'd ever want to buy a Lotso doll as a gift for anyone. At least not for anyone we really like!

Scary Moments. Okay, we understand that most IML readers won't be scared by anything they see in "Toy Story 3." But what about your younger sibs? The thing that's great about the Pixar films is that they appeal to people of all ages, from adults and teens right down to preschoolers. But "Toy Story 3" has some moments that definitely cross the line and will frighten the youngest fans. We get that the filmmakers want to ratchet up the drama for the older viewers, but this level of danger can be too intense for the little kids who are really the core "Toy Story" audience. If you're watching this with littler kids, keep that in mind.

IML's Rating: A-

We thought you might enjoy this bonus clip about John Morris, who's been doing the voice of Andy since he was 7 years old!