This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn't exist.
This is the year of the ‘product' film, with several films about the origins of a particular product being explored. The Beanie Bubble fits very nicely between Flamin' Hot, BlackBerry and Air, moving from the 80s into the 90s and banking on nostalgia to make us want to find out exactly what happened to the Beanie Babies bubble. Back in the mid-90s, you were either a collector or you knew a collector, there was no escaping the beanies and that inviting TY logo.
Behind every great man, there's always at least three women that he's standing in front of. There are always a trinity of women, each having propped the man up, in a relationship with him or created ideas that he had stolen, The Beanie Bubble tells the story of the three women in Ty Warner's life and how they helped him become a billionaire.
The names of the three women have been changed in the film and some dramatic licensing has been taken but the essence of the truth is in there. Robbie was his co-founder and creator of TY Inc, starting off making fluffy cats that became a huge hit at toy fairs and trade shows. Maya was the intern/assistant/digital marketing pioneer, she brought the company online, the first to utilise the internet, creating a website for Beanie Babies, just a first step in making the beanies a must have. Shelia was his finance who's two daughters helped inspire and in fact designed certain beanies. All three women were either discarded, used, and discredited. Each telling their share of the story in flashbacks. All three actresses are stand outs, particularly Elizabeth Banks as Robbie who injects humour as well as emotion into the role and you'll end up coveting all of Geraldine Viswanathan's outfits as Maya. But Zach Galifianakis as Ty Warner is truly a disturbing delight. The moments of vulnerability matched with the unhinged persona that Ty Warner expressed are apparent in every scene. Its unnerving how on point Galifianakis is with his performance.
Spanning from 1983 when Ty met Robbie and started the company to 1999 when the Beanie bubble finally burst, as predicted by Maya. Unlike some true story films, there are no moments of stagnation. Cutting back and forth through the years is slightly over done but its interesting to see how the events fold out. The most intriguing segments being how the Beanies went from no sales at trade shows to the most profitable product on eBay. The film cleverly avoids getting bogged down in numbers and stats and managed to give us the clear headlines. TY Inc doesn't sell to big corporate stores, Ty hated the collectors and ended up suing the people that helped make Beanies investments, TY Inc was one of the first companies to have a webpage, all said between the dramatics of Ty Warner.
To think that the under stuffing of toy animals was key to the success is mind blowing and incredible entertaining. The film captures every second of the craze in American and later the world, which could be encapsulated in the opening credits with the collision of a truck carrying boxes of Beanie Babies, exploding out into the road. Although there is far more to the burst of the Beanie Bubble to explore, the film concentrates on the three women and their stories, the more human angle. With a fantastic cast and some truly great performances, there is a lot to take in and be entertained by and not just the wave of nostalgia throughout the film. Even those who weren't swept up in the Beanie Babies craze will get something out of the film.
The Beanie Bubble will be released in cinemas and Apple TV+ on 28th July