THE BEANIE BUBBLE (APPLE TV+) (2023)
SYNOPSIS: Why did the world suddenly treat stuffed animals like gold? Ty Warner was a frustrated toy salesman until his collaboration with three women grew his masterstroke of an idea into the biggest toy craze in history. “The Beanie Bubble” is an inventive story about what and who we value, and the unsung heroes whose names didn't appear on the heart-shaped tag.
From Air to Tetris to Flamin’ Hot, 2023 is a good year for corporate biopics. Barbie is not in case you are wondering. Prime video isn’t resting on its laurel after the success of Air and Tetris thus their third biopic for the year happens to be The Beanie Bubble, a story about billionaire creator Ty Warner and his shenanigans.
The Beanie Bubble expectedly is more about the people behind them than the beanie babies. You know those miniature, understuffed animal soft toys that come with a Ty tag. Ty Warner (Zach Galifinakis) and his partner, girlfriend Robbie (Elizabeth Banks) first came up with the Beanie toys in early 90s and became a sensation years later. But later on, we learned that Robbie is screwed out of the company’s fortunes and legacy by none other than Ty.
Then Ty also left his long-time girlfriend, Shelia (Sarah Snook) whose two daughters helped inspired some of the product lines and he also side-lined another of his part-time employee, marketing whiz, Maya (Geraldine Viswanathan). All in all, Ty is painted as a ruthless, narcissistic corporate honcho who is also obsessed with face-lifts.
The story is based on Zac Bissonnette’s 2015 nonfiction book “The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute” but the movie fails to deliver justice to the three main female characters who supposedly are composites of several real people. The narrative unnecessarily shifts and jumps across timelines making it rather confusing to follow at times.
For a character that plays such an important role in the starting of the company, Robbie is not given much screentime except portraying her as a smart woman that knows how to navigate her place in the corporate world. Shelia is another frustrating character that somehow comes and goes in Ty’s life. Of all, Maya’s has the best character development, not that it’s a consolation. At least we know Maya’s disapproving immigrant parents and her desire to strike out on her own rather than being a doctor following her parents’ wishes.
That leaves Ty Warner. Zach Galifinakis delivers a magnetic performance as the supposedly, reclusive real-life billionaire. All the while, the movie never paints him in a positive light. Egoistic, wacky and emotional, you can name all the unflattering characteristics in the dictionary and Ty probably fits right into it.
For a corporate biopic about beanie babies, their creators and the eventual bust of their popularity, the material presented is as understuffed as their beanies. Yet strangely, The Beanie Bubble is an easy to digest, occasionally funny flick despite the flaws.
Review by Linus Tee