Movies about products are hot right now. Air, Tetris, and Barbie all found success analysing the myth of a popular icon; Apple TV+ now brings us the story of the Beanie Baby. The Beanie Bubble is the story of Ty Warner (Zach Galifianakis), the smiling, eccentric face that struck gold in the 1990s with the invention of the eponymous cuddly collectables.
And while he soaked up the profits and plaudits, this film charts the phenomenon from the perspective of three women whose work was pushed aside by Warner’s lust for power. Told in a jarring non-linear fashion, it’s difficult to ascertain what the film is trying to say. The timelines are all over the place, and the one common thread seems to be that most successes are driven by ruthless people.
It’s a valid point, but not a revelatory one, and the talented cast spend the duration of the film trying to make it seem like more. Succession’s Sarah Snook plays a single mother who is initially angered by Warner but ends up marrying him and being one of the voices that gets lost in his success.
As appealing as all three are, there’s just one problem – none of this is true. All three characters are an amalgam of real people but their roles and the story are fictional (Warner himself never married, but had two partners, one of whom Snook’s character is loosely inspired by). It isn’t the first biopic to do this, and the film states from the beginning that much of it is “made up”.
However, it’s a self defeating approach when telling a story about voices needing to be heard. The Beanie Bubble is inspired by a legitimate phenomenon, but takes nearly two hours to deliver less information than a Wikipedia article. Without a moral, or a message, the storytelling is as soft as the cuddly Beanie Babies themselves.
The Beanie Bubble is available now