Rob Reviews "The Beanie Bubble"
I cannot seem to get enough of “the story behind the story” films and documentaries that seem to grow exponentially each year, especially when it comes to franchises that I grew up with. I can’t say that I had much when it came to the Ty Beanie Babies, but my wife was into them for a bit before we met. Heck, there are still some of them sitting around this house somewhere. The latest float in this parade is based on Zac Bissonnette’s book The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute in The Beanie Bubble.
This particular tale is told from four points of view: Ty Warner himself (Zach Galifinakis), his first business partner and former romantic partner, Robbie (Elizabeth Banks), his next romantic partner in Sheila (Saran Snook), and whiz-kid marketing and tech employee, Maya (Geraldine Viswanathan). Each of their timelines not only intertwine but also move back and forth to tell the story of an idea that expanded through a child’s eyes, became a worldwide phenomenon, and then crashed almost as fast as it rose to prominence. Warner’s self-destructive behavior and pure unadulterated greed affects them differently but on a certain level unites them on different levels in order to try and stop the man they see as a corporate-level monster from taking everything from each of them.
I cannot say that this is a terrible film, but I also don’t see it winding up anywhere higher than the lower quarter of my 2023 film list. The biggest problem with The Beanie Bubble likes in the storytelling itself. I understand the need to move back and forth over a sixteen-year tale in order to build the curiosity of where all of this would wind up, but it does so to the point of confusion. I like to think that I am pretty good at keeping up with these things, but even I found myself at a couple of points going “Wait, where are we right now?”. Only Banks has any significant form of appearance adaptation, but even that doesn’t happen until almost the end of the film. I’m not saying it would have to be overt to remind the audience where the current scene fell in the timeline but give us something to go on. Add to that a pace that could be one of the slowest I have seen in a long time, and this film weighs itself down BIG TIME.
The co-directors here in Kristin Gore and Damian Kulash (the former of which adapted the screenplay and the latter doing A LOT of video work with the band OK Go, who of course are the band playing over the end credits) are both in their first feature here, and they both do have some work to do as their career progresses. I cannot say that this film is not shot well, but all the visuals in the world cannot hide a badly done script. Even with this cast (really highlighted by Snook), there was nothing about this film that I found to be special or attention-getting.
Perhaps I expected more from the story of the product itself and less about the personal lives of those around it, but The Beanie Bubble just isn’t a great film. Perhaps a true documentary would serve this subject matter better, but not having read the source material I cannot confirm nor deny. Skip this one unless you REALLY want to see it.