In America, there is an enduring and seemingly endless fascination with the next big thing. Those companies and products that capture the imagination of people and customers nationwide can seemingly come out of nowhere and predicting the product that becomes the next big thing in wider culture is equally hard. One such item that broke through to become a part of its time was The Beanie Baby. During the 1990s these plush stuffed animals were at the center of an unlikely craze. The Beanie Bubble seeks to tell this unique story and creates a must-stream movie about a unique event in cultural history.
The Beanie Baby Craze
An important part of what makes The Beanie Bubble such a unique movie is due to the event it’s based on. Even if you were there the popularity and resulting finical bubble Beanie Babies caused was truly something unique. What made Beanie Babies the core part of such a unique piece of history was several factors coming together at the same time. The Beanie Baby itself was flexible and easy to pose they were not stiff stuffed animals. This was a product worth owning and combined with a focus on local shopping collectibility, and the use of early online internet shopping platforms all came together to create the bubble that would occur.
The value both real and perceived made Beanie Babies must-have items and people even argued about ownership in divorce court. The people behind these plush stuffed toys certainly didn’t plan for things to grow as they did, and it’s the people behind the craze that makes the movie well worth your time.
The Movie and The People Behind The Toys
The Beanie Baby Bubble focuses on the people around company founder Ty Warner (played by Zach Galifianakis in one of his best roles) and more critically the surrounding women. Like any great success Bean Babies is not a one-man or one-act story, there are several people and several events that created this lightning-in-a-bottle success.
The story is centered on three women and the role they play in the life and business of Ty Warner. The cast includes Robbie (Elizabeth Banks) a friend of Ty who knew him before the big time and helped him form his first company and also a romantic partner as well, Maya (Geraldine Viswanathan) who at 17 starts working for Ty and is key in the development of the company’s internet strategy a key component of their future success, finally, there’s Sheila (Sarah Snook) a single mother of two children who becomes Ty Warner’s live-in girlfriend.
The movie’s story is non-linear, and the story jumps around from different times as each woman knew Warner at different times in his life and business. Given how quickly Beanie Babies rose and fell it offers a broad story of how quickly success can come and go and how this affects not only business but the personal lives of those involved. The three leads each deliver strong performances as each woman had uniquely different experiences in dealing with Ty Warner. To his great credit, Zach Galifianakis delivers a layered performance presenting Warner as a man that is filled with childlike wonder at the enjoyment children receive from his toys and also a cold selfish man who only cares for himself.
On the surface, The Beanie Bubble presents a tale as old as the business world itself the sudden rise, amazing success, and the seemingly inevitable fall. What sets it apart, however, is the unique framing of its focus on three characters and their relationship to one another. This is combined with vibrant colors straight from the 1990s and archival footage to take us back to a truly unique event.