Loosely based on real events, Queenpins tells the story of frustrated suburban housewife Connie (Kristen Bell) and her friend JoJo (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), who bond over their shared appreciation of “couponing”. After a streak of free coupons opens Connie’s eyes to the potential profit of selling these discounts, Connie and JoJo begin expanding their operations by stealing discarded coupons directly from the factory, but have to stay one step ahead of the law and loss prevention officer Ken (Paul Walter Hauser), who is investigating the sudden influx of bargains.
It’s an interesting premise, with a lot of potential for both comedy and heist movie fun, but Queenpins is unfortunately let down by its writing. Despite ostensibly being funny, it is conspicuously bereft of any real jokes – there are moments that come very close to setting up and delivering punchlines, but they fall just short.
This lack of strong comedic chops also means the characters aren’t particularly compelling, and it’s hard to form any kind of emotional attachment to the action on screen, despite the best efforts of a very talented cast. Jokes aside, the character writing is fairly simple and one-note across the board, which would be fine if it was in service of humour, but without that to fall back on, Queenpins quickly becomes a chore to sit through.
The heist movie elements are more engaging than the comedy, but they are few and far between, and tragically also fall flat without the essential connective tissue of good jokes to bolster them. The film also tries to pay some satirical lip service to criticism of the American financial system, but doesn’t fully commit to making any points in particular.
Queenpins is an ambitious production that tries to juggle a lot of disparate narrative elements at once, but is unfortunately less than the sum of its parts, doing a lot of different things poorly and making for a muddled and unsatisfying cinematic experience. It’s a shame, because the story had a lot of promise on paper, but in execution it’s more of a bargain bin piece.
Queenpins is released on Amazon Prime Video on 26th November 2021.
Watch the trailer for Queenpins here: