A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Message about the danger of focusing on consumerism over empathy and common decency. Themes also deal with people allegedly stealing ideas from and mistreating others.
Positive Role Models
The only person who can really be viewed as a role model is Martha Nelson Thomas, the creator of the Doll Babies. She used her creativity to make a product that people found joy in.
Most of the featured people and interviewees are White, aside from Dr. Lisa Williams, a Black female entrepreneur who created the ethnic doll line Fresh Dolls, and pioneering journalist Connie Chung, who's Chinese American. There are images of Black people in the archival footage, as well as images of Black Cabbage Patch Kids.
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Violence & Scariness
Archival footage of Black Friday stampedes caused by the Cabbage Patch Kids. Descriptions of injuries from these stampedes.
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Products & Purchases
The film's full focus is on the Cabbage Patch Kids and consumerism as a whole, particularly in the realm of kids' toys.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Billion Dollar Babies: The True Story of the Cabbage Patch Kids is a documentary about the history behind the popular dolls and the frenzy they caused when they came to market in the early 1980s. The film includes archival footage of violent Black Friday stampedes and other contentious situations that happened during the height of the Cabbage Patch Kids' success. The film's focus is primarily on consumerism and the success of viral marketing before "virality" was a thing. There's no strong language, sexual content, or substance use of note -- but there's also not much in the way of diversity; few of the interview subjects are from diverse backgrounds. Neil Patrick Harris narrates. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This documentary is a fun, nostalgic look at the history of the Cabbage Patch Kids and how the frenzy around them laid the groundwork for the modern Black Friday chaos. Billion Dollar Babies: The True Story of the Cabbage Patch Kids gives doll fans and pop culture fans alike a crash course in the history of the popular dolls, the legal battle over who actually owns the rights to the property, and the dangers of identifying too closely with consumerism and fantasy.
The film isn't quite as tight as it could be, feeling a bit like a Spark Notes version of itself -- and it could have gone deeper into the nitty gritty of how the Cabbage Patch Kids were created. But it excels in demonstrating how successful marketing campaigns work. To that point, though, the film seems to not quite know what its thesis is. Is it about Black Friday, which would demand some focus on the history of creating a supply and demand economy? Or is it about the history of the Cabbage Patch Kids? Or is it about how successful marketing campaigns can make us think we want something we actually don't need? All three of these ideas could easily become their own film. But Billion Dollar Babies meshes them all together and doesn't dive as deeply as it could into any of them. Still, it serves as a great surface-level resource for fans of pop culture who want to learn about one of the biggest moments in modern consumerism history.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.