Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

This Toy Story 3 IRL took 8 years to make, and it’s beyond impressive

You may have your own passion projects: tracking down old punk bootlegs or looking for original copies of the Watchmen comic or getting that breakup solo album finally off the ground. Take heart, seekers, and absorb some inspiration from Iowa brothers Morgan and Mason McGrew: They spent eight years remaking Toy Story 3 with actual Toy Story toys, starting when they were teenagers. “Impressive” doesn’t really cover this tremendous effort, but “awe-inspiring” is a good place to start. As then-19-year-old Morgan told ABC News in 2015, “It is hands down our favorite film of all time.” Obviously. As A.V. Club sister site Gizmodo puts it, “This Live-Action Toy Story 3 Remake Made By Teens Puts My Own Teen Accomplishments to Shame.”


Using stop-motion animation and iPhones, the McGrews do an amazing job of mimicking the shots of the original film, timing it perfectly against the film’s actual soundtrack. Yes, the doll’s mouths don’t move, because they’re real. One of the best parts is when the movie shifts into Andy and Bonnie territory with real-life human actors, including one of the McGrews themselves. Sure, Andy’s haircut changes slightly—it was bound to after several years of filming.

But the real show-stopper is the trash-incinerator scene, complete with a ton of shredded paper to indicate garbage and spot-on mechanical imagery. The McGrews tracked the whole project on the Toy Story 3 In Real Life Facebook page, and even (fortunately) got permission from Disney to release the whole thing. This real-life version of Toy Story is a hell of a lot more impressive than Disney’s own recent CGI live-action releases like Aladdin or The Lion King. As one YouTube commenter proposed, “Why should Disney make crappy live action remakes of films they’ve already done when instead they should let the fans do all the work?”

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Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.