The Beanie Bubble Review
The Beanie Bubble (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Kristin Gore and Damian Kulash, written by Zac Bissonnette and Kristin Gore and starring Zach Galifianakis, Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Snook, Geraldine Viswanathan, Tracey Bonner, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Jeff Schine, Jason Burkey, Delaney Quinn, Madison Johnson, Kurt Yaeger, Hari Dhillon, Sweta Keswani, Ajay Friese, Callie Johnson, Veanna Black and Brian Troxell.
Ty Warner (Zach Galifianakis) got rich off the hard work of others. His brand was that which produced the Beanie Babies which were a phenomenon in the 1990’s. Taking advantage of hard-working people may well have seemed like the American way in corporate America a few decades ago when the majority of the new movie, The Beanie Bubble, takes place. Nowadays, though, women have more pull in the workforce and the events that transpire throughout directors Kristin Gore and Damian Kulash’s new movie feel rather saddening to watch. However, the movie is also a bit of a comedy as well so we get to enjoy watching Ty’s downfall as the three women who made his company so big give Ty his comeuppance in various ways.
Elizabeth Banks plays Robbie who was a former love interest of Ty’s and helped Ty get his foot in the door with over-sized, under-stuffed animals that would eventually shrink in size and stir up a frenzy in America and beyond. The movie begins with Robbie’s story but it’s rather flat and plays in a boring manner for most of the picture. Banks plays her part in such a way that we feel sorry for Robbie but we don’t necessarily root for her the way that this movie depends on us to.
Much more interesting is the character of Maya (the terrific Geraldine Viswanathan), an internet-savvy young girl who came onto Ty’s team. Maya was caught in a dilemma with Ty because she was the brains behind the marketing of the Beanie Babies. The most interesting scenario the movie presents us with is when Maya was revealed to be making just $12 an hour. Ty promised his whole team that he would double their salaries at one point and when he tells Maya her new salary, it’s only $20 an hour, not $24. Could Ty not do simple math? As played with much clueless, unfocused passion by Galifianakis, that concept seems pretty believable.
The most heartbreaking story in The Beanie Bubble is that of Sheila (a well-cast Sarah Snook). Sheila was looking out for Ty who treated her and her two daughters with respect in the beginning stages of their relationship. In retrospect, however, it seems that Ty was just using Sheila and her family to do things like name beanie babies. In fact, one of Sheila’s daughters inspired the creation of the small beanies. At one point, the daughter’s name was on the beanie baby she, herself, named but Ty selfishly removed her name from it and gave himself the credit instead.
A truck full of beanies gets into an accident as the film begins and we see people fighting over the toys like they meant something great in America. And, at one point, they probably did. Ty, however, mistreated even the woman who founded the premiere online fan club for his stuffed animals. He sued her rather than helped her help him more by, perhaps, giving her a job. People foolishly believed some of these stuffed animals were extremely valuable at the time and bid them up on eBay to insane prices. While eBay served its purpose as a marketing tool, Maya knew better in terms of the realities of the “limited edition” beanies.
Galifianakis bravely takes on his role as Ty. In one scene, he asks Sheila to comfort him after having feelings of doubt regarding their relationship. Ty was a coward who was eventually tied to tax evasion. This is not the most glamorous of roles and it is to Galifianakis’s credit that he makes us believe him in the part. Sheila falls for Ty’s charm because her daughters liked him and the products he sold to the world. Snook conveys her character transformation perfectly on screen as Sheila goes from naive to smart and realizes the mistake she made by bringing Ty into her daughters’ lives as a romantic partner.
The Beanie Bubble is, however, Geraldine Viswanathan’s movie from the moment she comes on screen. As the most likable and believable character in the movie, we root for her because Maya is smart and because she sacrifices so much for Ty even thought she doesn’t think she is doing so as she is doing it. Viswanathan steals every scene she is in and is a true gem of an actress. She’s fiercely independent and is the glue that holds the movie together.
The time periods the film portrays are well-depicted. From the beginning of the internet (which was how the beanies were marketed) to the sales tactics Ty employees used to sell stuffed animals, everything the movie presents is believable. It’s just that the movie needed more of a sharp edge to get its point across as to how bad Ty was as a person to do what he did to Maya and Sheila, especially. Still, the movie is enjoyable to watch even though it could have been much more if it dealt with Ty in a more matter-of-fact way. This film feels sugarcoated.
In the end, The Beanie Bubble adequately displays the rise and fall of a company selling a product which was cute. If you gave in and bought it, you’d probably have hated yourself the next day. If you find yourself enjoying the new movie while watching it, you’ll find plenty of flaws in its presentation of its main character the next day.
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