'The Beanie Bubble' Review: Stuffing Toy Animals With Zach Galifianakis & Elizabeth Banks
You think that you wanted more movies about products or companies making them? Well, here's another movie about a product and the company behind it. Colourful comedy-drama The Beanie Bubble joins that club, examining highs and lows of business and eccentric people running them, adapting Zac Bissonnette's book 'The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion And The Dark Side Of Cute' in the process. We meet Ty Warner (Zach Galifianakis) and his business partner Robbie (Elizabeth Banks) as they establish a company called Ty Inc. which ends up producing popular stuffed animals called Beanie Babies in the 1990s. We follow the company's meteoric rise helped by, in addition to Robbie, other influential women in Ty's life such as company employee Maya (Geraldine Viswanathan), Ty's fiancée Sheila (Sarah Snook) and her daughters Ava (Madison Johnson) and Maren (Delaney Quinn).
If you've seen at least one movie or miniseries about a company in the last two years, you definitely won't be shocked about anything in The Beanie Bubble as it follows the rulebook fairly closely. Directors Kristin Gore (also the screenwriter) and Damian Kulash (co-composer with Nathan Barr) aren't necessarily setting any headquarters on fire with their intense artistic vision but they do most of it adequately while showing a little bit of flair in a few fleeting moments. Most of those flashier moments work because Gore's writing manages to use a time-jumping structure to build setups and payoffs pretty constantly throughout the film, with some help from narration by their actors and nimble transitions handled by editor Jane Rizzo.
When it comes to moving characters and actors from one year to another, Gore and Kulash draw some fine performances from Viswanathan and the two young child actors, while Banks is really the one who stands out from the cast. She's balancing her character's tragic trajectory and vibrant comedic touch very efficiently so it's no surprise that Robbie's arc feels the most complete in the end. Galifianakis is trying to find different corners in Ty's greed, unpleasant masculinity and sliminess but that character just happens to be a perfect example of how cookie-cutter the film can be at its worst which is why much of it comes out as something that's not all that deep even when it's portrayed as such. That's also pretty much the essence of The Beanie Bubble as a whole: it's performed well enough, written well enough, designed well enough but will it stick around and become a long-lasting success? Not really, no.
Smileys: Structure, Elizabeth Banks
He didn't just roller skate with them, sadly he also rolled them.