The Beanie Bubble is the latest Apple Original Film that centers on a true 90s icon: Beanie Babies. If you were a child of the 90s, you absolutely had Beanie Babies growing up. We had a ton of them at my house until we sold them all at a garage sale; I never understood why really because I was so young. Now, it all makes sense after watching this sharp new dramedy and learning what happened behind the scenes at TY Inc.
The Beanie Bubble begins in 1983 and introduces us to Ty Warner (Zach Galifianakis), a frustrated toy enthusiast who comes up with the idea of creating a line of collectible, under stuffed animals. He partners up with Robbie Jones (Elizabeth Banks) to start the company, hires tech savvy 17-year-old Maya Kumar (Geraldine Viswanathan) to help grow the Beanie Babies line, and enters a relationship with Sheila Harper (Sarah Snook). The film really focuses on Warner’s relationships with these three women and how integral they were to Beanie Babies becoming a massive success.
Beanie Babies quickly become a sensation and Ty Warner becomes a multimillionaire. However, the Beanie Baby bubble eventually becomes unsustainable. As the demand for the toys increases, the supply decreases, and the prices skyrocket. When the bubble finally bursts, many people are left financially ruined from their investments.
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My biggest critique of the film is the genre of film that it’s continuing to grow. We’ve had several product origin stories this year alone, from AIR to Flamin’ Hot to Blackberry. While having a film like this once in a while isn’t a bad thing, having so many of them in a short amount of time is too much. It will make audiences tired of this type of film (as good as it is) and good films won’t be as successful as they could be.
That being said, the script from Kristin Gore is sharp and full of laugh-out-loud moments. The film, directed by Gore and Damian Kulash, is beautifully shot, with a bright color palette that perfectly captures the style transition from the 1980s to the 1990s. While it does drag a little towards the third act, it’s still surprisingly moving at times and has an important message about friendship and family.
The performances are fantastic, with Galifianakis giving a memorable one as Ty Warner. Warner isn’t an easy person to stomach, as the movie pokes fun at his silly attention to details while portraying him as oblivious, tone deaf and sometimes cruel. It’s ironic that the CEO behind the heart-shaped tag turned out to be a jerk and never understood why Beanie Babies were so popular.
The real stars of the show though are the leading ladies. Banks and Snook give terrific performances as Robbie and Sheila; they have great chemistry with Galifianakis, which is important as they are both in relationships with him throughout the film. The real scene stealer though is Geraldine Viswanathan as Maya Kumar. Kumar was very influential in how TY Inc. evolved as a company, especially by utilizing the Internet before others did.
Overall, The Beanie Bubble is a delightful film that is a must-see for anyone who was a child of the 90s, or anyone who is interested in the psychology behind fads and bubbles. It’s also a cautionary tale about the dangers of investing in fads (I’m looking at you Crypto), shows how easily people can be swept up in them, and how quickly they can lose everything when the bubble finally bursts.