The Beanie Bubble (2023)

There’s something interesting about the influx of films about capitalism and massive corporations being tailored as approachable biopics. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this growing sub-genre of corporate/consumerism biopics feels slimy and calculated. These aren’t movies so much as they are commercials and often cheerleaders for the idea of humanizing faceless corporations and “average” CEO’s whose life literally depends on a business decision. Despite some interesting aspects to it, “The Beanie Bubble” is yet another dose of corporate capitalism being lionized in a big budget, star studded movie. “The Beanie Bubble” is vaguely about the Beanie Babies craze of the 1990’s, but it’s a mostly fluffed up, mostly fictional account of Ty Warner and how he went from billionaire to has been seemingly overnight.

“The Beanie Bubble” is not a movie about the Beanie Babies. It’s actually a movie about Ty Warner, the narcissistic often petty man child (as the movie depicts him) who helped produce the craze known as Beanie Babies. If you were around in the 1990’s, you can fondly recall the massive fanaticism that surrounded the search and collection of these flimsy beanie stuffed animals. It was insanity, and seemingly over night it all disappeared with Beanie Babies becoming a recurring joke about the 90’s and fads. “The Beanie Bubble” lives and dies by the cast, all of whom struggle to do something with this often shallow picture. The only one who really shines is Geraldine Viswanathan, who is just great as Ty’s side kick Maya, the woman who’d help Beanie Babies build a massive online presence.

Ty is often depicted as short sighted and stubborn, a man who refuses to even acknowledge anyone but yes men. If you’re looking for a movie about the Beanie Babies, you’re better off looking elsewhere. This is once again, like the other films of this ilk, sensationalized, dramaticized, and in many story beats just flat out complete, fluffy fiction. Even if the movie does admit it from the starting gate that this movie is mostly just fiction (with a lot of characters just composites of other people in Ty Warner’s life), that doesn’t help “The Beanie Bubble” from being a dud. Most obvious is that co-writer Kristin Gore chooses to focus on Ty Warner who is depicted as something of a more deranged Willy Wonka rather than stepping back and examining the darker implications of the Beanie Baby craze.

“The Beanie Bubble” never takes capitalism to task. It never puts a magnifying glass to consumerism, and mass greed, and over glorifying what ultimately ended up being disposable junk. The product is deified in many ways as a cultural hallmark, not really looking at the darker side of the whole Beanie Baby Bubble. The characters constantly credit Ty for cutting corners and under stuffing Beanie Babies, turning his cheapness in to a character pro. There’s also no focus on the sheer maniacal breed of fanatics that pushed, shoved, and rioted to get Beanie Babies. The only time there is mention of rioting, it’s painted as adorable and a bright spot in the Beanie Baby frenzy and in Maya’s whole career. Why were people so obsessed with toys that ultimately proved to be absolute junk, in the end?

Why did America not learn their lesson when it came to putting worthless collectibles on a pedestal? Like “Air” and “Flamin’ Hot” so much of the facts are put aside in favor of spotlighting and celebrating consumerism, and corporations. It’s not about gross consumerism, instead it ends up being about the success that was Ty’s Beanie Babies and how the corporation fell because Ty refused to listen to the savvy women in his life. It’s so woefully misguided like all the other product biopics. It’s all so hollow and once the credits have rolled, there’s really nothing to take away from any of it. It is substance free, it is hollow, and it is pointless.

Like Beanie Babies.