The Beanie Bubble is more of a marketing ploy to take advantage of fans’ new-found appetite for nostalgia rather than character or story.
This review of the Apple TV+ film The Beanie Bubble does not contain spoilers.
The year 2023 may be forever known as the year cinema started to make movies about people who changed the world through innovation, invention, and flashes of genius. You have Tetris, Flamin’ Hot, BlackBerry, and not to mention Oppenheimer, all widely varied in quality. However, at least those films took the time to tell a story about the character and provide insight into their motivation.
Unlike those films, The Beanie Bubble misses the point of its place in history entirely. Instead of focusing on the internet-driven business boom, it delivers a shallow, unfaithful tale of a man stumbling into billions, taking advantage of consumers’ nostalgia for product-based films at the moment.
The story follows a peculiar, some say magical, and others say insecure little man named Ty Warner (Zach Galifianakis). He started a toy company with his friend Robbie (Elizabeth Banks), a woman who s beaten down by life and not getting what she deserves. That all changed when she met Ty, who sells all his late father’s antiques so they can start their own business.
The Beanie Bubble review and plot summary
The company is called Ty, Inc., which foreshadows the character’s ego and the start of a successful line of toys called Beanies. However, Kristin Gore‘s script jumps back and forth between two critical points in Ty’s life. One is the aforementioned point above. The other is the explosion of his new line called Beanie Babies, a miniature version of his original, which exploded worldwide.
Helping in that new venture is Sheila (Sarah Snook), a mother of two young girls who helps Ty design the baby versions of his toys. Another is a young medical student Maya (Geraldine Viswanathan), who takes advantage of the rise of something called the “internet” and a new auction website called eBay, marketing limited runs of the toys that somehow became valuable investments.
The Beanie Bubble is based on The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute by Zac Bissonnette. The story would have been more enlightening and entertaining as a documentary feature than a fictionalized retelling. Instead, directors Gore and Damian Kulash tell a comedy through a Fourth-wave feminism lens.
The film becomes artificial rather than natural, not to mention surface-level, ignoring key details and facts and failing to capture the era the film’s story would thrive in. Even at the film’s beginning, a disclaimer reads, “There are parts of the truth you just cannot make up. The rest, we did.”
The female characters are based on three women in Warner’s life. Dramatic liberties are taken, basing these three women on real-life people. However, the most interesting is Maya, based on Lina Triveti, a $12.00-an-hour employee who made Ty a billionaire.
Is The Beanie Bubble good or bad?
And that’s where The Beanie Bubble becomes a below-average biographical comedy. Gore and Kulash need to focus on a detailed account of Ty’s manipulation of the Maya character. The script needs to be stronger to go past the ninety-minute mark, forcing them to create a buffoonery comedy instead of a sharp take on insights into internet consumer markets of that decade.
A smarter script would have found a way to combine both.
Is The Beanie Bubble worth watching?
The Beanie Bubble is hardly objectionable and may be worth watching if you are a fan of any of the cast. However, this is a ploy for a new genre rather than being about a person or a product. BlackBerry’s a sterling example of that this year. Flamin’ Hot is highly fictionalized but finds a sweet family story about making something out of yourself in America.
The Beanie Bubble doesn’t do either or even examine the titular crash it refers to with candor or insight.
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You can watch this film with a subscription to Apple TV+.