The Beanie Bubble is a look at the successful women who helped turned Beanie Babies into one of the world’s first massive secondary market crazes! In a world where you can resell practically anything to the right group of people, it was refreshing and crazy to spin the clock back and watch people fight and gather en-masse to collect as many Beanie Babies as they could. The principals of supply and demand have generally dictated most markets and products, but it’s the idea of limited releases and exclusivity that have always driven the world crazy and that have spawned millions of collectors of nearly any product they deem profitable.
Business man Ty Warner (Zach Galifianakis) took a chance on himself and his business partner Robbie (Elizabeth Banks) when he sold his late fathers belongings in order to create a business where they would sell “under-stuffed” plush animal toys. There would be all kinds of animals of different colors and kids and adults alike could snuggle and play with them at their leisure. It wasn’t until Ty had met Sheila (Sarah Snook) and her two daughters that he would really see how much these stuffed animals could mean to kids and even went as far as creating Baby versions of the animals for the girls. He was courting Sheila, but he also loved having people to be around who liked him and who helped him create new ideas for the company.
That’s also where Maya (Geraldine Viswanathan) comes in to the story as assistant who helped sell Beanies and Beanie Babies at trade shows to toy store owners. When she started telling customers that the Beanie Babies were a limited run, toy store owners bought the Babies at a ridiculous rate and then were selling them even faster at their own stores. Soon, this idea of one-off release Beanie Babies had turned into adults collecting as many as they could in their area and selling them on a second hand market, driving up the value and popularity of the brand as a whole. All the while, Ty got richer and richer and continued to hardly credit these women around him with helping create the Beanie Baby craze.
While The Beanie Bubble is full of fascinating looks at how eBay helped drive the secondary market and how the limited edition craze stoked the fires of collectors all over, the film can’t escape this feeling that it’s really a Hallmark movie in disguise. It’s a pretty light affair on all sides, never really digging too deep under the surface of the emotion Galifianakis conjures up and never really deciding if he’s just misguided or actually a real bad guy. Filled with dozen’s of needle drops in case you missed all the cue cards telling you what year we’re in, The Beanie Bubble relies too heavily on outside influence to help tell its story, leaving a light script in the background that would have more meaningful moments had they been fleshed out more. You know that you should be happy for these women and all they accomplished for Beanie Babies and Ty, but I felt the story could’ve highlighted their contributions in more impactful ways, so that by the end of the film you really feel empowered and happy for them.
Apple TV+ has built a very interesting content library consisting of several stellar original Sci-Fi and Comedy TV shows, but only offering up a few passible original films. Outside of Tetris and Cha Cha Real Smooth I’ve struggled to find another film that feels like a full feature and not just a made for TV/Streaming movie that Netflix has mastered (not a compliment btw). The Beanie Bubble has potential for a great story and is totally fascinating in a lot of regards, but it just never fully clicks and feels like it thinks that it’s important. The performances were all enjoyable, but it leaves a lot to be desired by way of entertainment and I think we’ll be better suited waiting for some of Apple TV+ festival acquisitions later in the year.
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