Haven’t you ever wanted just a little bit more out of life? Well, most people do. They get tired of the mundane life that slowly kills them. Yet, they do nothing to break the pattern. And then there are two spectacular women, the Queenpins. The two friends go beyond general expectations and create an empire of their own. A legacy by counterfeiting coupons. Yes, you heard it right, coupons.
Connie Kaminski, a coupon addict, believes she understands coupons better than anyone else. The protagonist uses her superpower to steal, smuggle and sell coupons that make her a millionaire. Queenpins, directed and written by Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly, adapts a real-life story and presents it most humorously and entertainingly. Kristen Bell and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, playing the lead roles, are as spectacular as ever.
‘Queenpins’ Plot Summary
A middle-aged suburban housewife, Connie Kaminski (Kristen Bell), won three gold medals at the Olympic race walk yet suffers from an existential crisis and financial debt. Connie’s husband, Rick, is a senior auditor at the IRS. The couple tried to start a family. After a series of expensive fertility treatments, Connie got pregnant with a baby girl. But the baby didn’t survive. The tragedy derailed their relationship.
While Rick got himself busy with work, Connie found her existence in collecting coupons and stockpiling goods. In a way, Connie is trying to earn back the money they spent on expensive fertility treatment, and maybe she wants to become a mother again.
Connie has a small world which she shares with her best friend, Jojo Johnson (Kirby Howell-Baptiste). Like Connie, JoJo is a makeup artist who makes video tutorials, but she is also unemployed like Connie. Both women collect coupons and stockpile goods until Connie brainstorms a lucrative business scheme. She gets a coupon for a free cereal box after she writes a complaint letter to the company complaining about stale cereals. Feeling victorious, Connie writes more complaint letters and gets free coupons for the product.
Jojo and Connie discuss that if they get more of these free coupons and sell them for half the price, they will earn a hefty income without any investment. But writing complaint letters doesn’t sound like a feasible idea. Hence, Connie and JoJo visit the coupon printing facility and coupon clearinghouse, Advanced Solutions in Chihuahua, Mexico. Connie devises an idea to steal these coupons and sell them online. However, Jojo smells trouble. Will Connie’s bizarre business plan work and bring them out of poverty?
Major Spoilers Ahead
Selling the “Undervalued” for a “Value” – An Underdog’s Business Plan
In Chihuahua, Mexico, Connie and JoJo made an Advanced Solutions printer facility worker, Alejandro, and Rosa, a member of their illegal trade. Alejandro told them that with every lot of coupons they printed, there was always an extra one. Typically, these extra coupons were destroyed, but Alejandro smuggled them to the US through roadways. The package found its way to Connie and Jojo. They sold those coupons online through their website, SavvySuperSaver.com. To give an extra marketing push, JoJo started making videos to attract potential housewives.
However, as sales soared, it caught the attention of the companies. The loss prevention officer, Ken Miller (Paul Walter Hauser), a coupon geek, got numerous complaints about fake coupons. However, Ken failed to find any flaws in the fraudulent coupons. Ken concluded that they weren’t imitations but original coupons that somehow reached the consumers through a secondary channel.
Ken tried contacting the FBI to look into the fraud. Still, the director found the case too trivial to be investigated by the country’s prestigious law enforcement establishment. The Salt Water coupon counterfeit case got lost in the FBI HQ in Washington. At the same time, the Queenpins became multi-millionaires by illegally selling coupons.
The Coupon Bust
For some bizarre reasons, Connie naively believed that their coupon money was dirty. Hence, the Queenpins impulsively bought Lamborghinis, guns, and planes to sell them, thinking it would make their money clean. Connie also visited the fertility center and reapplied for the treatment. However, instead of going with her husband’s sperm, she bought a more potent one for 330,000 dollars.
In the meantime, US postal inspector Simon Kilmurry (Vince Vaughn) contacted Ken Miller to bust the coupon racket. Simon asked Ken to order a coupon from SavvySuperSaver.com to track the postage mail. Through the postcard, Simon discovered that these mails were sent from Phoenix, which would probably be the operation center of their coupon sellers.
The dark web geek, Tempe Tina (Bebe Rexha), explained to Queenpins that they already had clean money and shouldn’t have bought expensive items. She urged Connie and JoJo to sell off the luxuries immediately. While the duo sold guns to a Phoenix militia, Simon and Ken arrived in Phoenix. They followed the clues and arrested Connie and JoJo.
Connie and JoJo were charged for carrying out the largest counterfeit coupon scam in history. Connie confessed to her crimes during interrogation and told Simon and Ken that she built a network because she was tired of following the conventional life path. She wanted more out of life, but she struggled to find her uniqueness for a longer period. Her friend Jojo made her realize that Connie understood coupons more than anything else.
Simon grasped the monetary aspect of the coupons and believed that the general public used them to save money. But Connie and Ken explained that it wasn’t about what you buy but the feeling you get when using a coupon. “When people use coupons, their oxytocin levels rise,” Ken said. It is called “coupon high.” In simple words, Connie didn’t sell coupons, but she sold the feeling of using coupons.
On the other hand, Simon rejected their philosophical ideas. He stated that Connie would face 40 years to life in prison for her crimes. In his humble gesture, Ken suggested Connie to get an expensive lawyer.
Connie took full responsibility for the crimes, due to which JoJo only faced ten days in jail and one year of probation. The Mexican counterparts, Alejandro and Rosa Diaz disappeared after the bust, probably to spend a luxurious life somewhere near the beach. Discouraged by her husband again, Connie cut off ties with Rick and gave him a divorce. Connie’s lawyer defended Connie in court and explained to the jury that his client only exploited the loopholes and took advantage of a broken system. The judge took the bait and, considering the nature of her offense, announced 11 months of prison time with the possibility of parole.
‘Queenpins’ Ending Explained
Ken Miller got furious after listening to the court’s verdict. He tried to argue with the defense attorney, who discreetly informed him that multinational corporations don’t want their logo in the news channel. Thus, their shareholders requested to close the matter without any media attention. For them, the loss was just a write-off that hardly affected their books. Still, Ken had a hard time moving on. Simon gracefully told Ken not to complicate his personal life with a professional one. “Don’t go searching for too much.”
From the beginning, Ken’s character lived a life carved out of strict ideals. He wasn’t the guy who would break the rules for anyone, not even for him. As a part of his strict stature, he was pretty alone. After working with Simon on the coupon scam, Ken learned a life lesson not to make everything personal. To sometimes loosen up. At the end of Queenpins, when an older woman gave Ken a forged coupon, he made an exception for her and gave her the discount. It was the transformation a character needed, and he achieved it thrillingly.
While Connie spent her time in jail, JoJo found Connie’s money stash in her baby’s room. With the money, JoJo bought a coupon printing facility in Montenegro and named it Bogo Industries. She probably bought it to print and sell coupons and improve their business schemes. In the correction facility, Connie got pregnant with a healthy baby. Finally, her dream of becoming a mother would be fulfilled. And she says, “It doesn’t matter how you get to the finish line, just as long as you get there.”
Queenpins is a 2021 drama-comedy film written and directed by Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly.