Directors Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly are somewhat new to the scene, directing only 2 other feature films (Beneath the Harvest Sky, The Way We Get By) that have performed moderately well and are now taking on their new feature film, QueenPins. This comedy centers around Connie, played by Kristen Bell, a suburban housewife who finds immense joy in the art of couponing. Connie discovers she can illegally obtain valuable coupons in bulk and decides to create a site to sell these coupons to other couponers for an extreme amount of profit.
She decides to loop her best friend, and fellow couponer, JoJo (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) into the business but extorting an abundance of money from companies will catch some eyes, those eyes being loss-prevention officer Ken Miller (Paul Walter Hauser) and U.S. Postal Inspector Simon Kilmurry (Vince Vaughn).
Now, going into this film blind, you will notice the cast attached to this film is quite impressive, with many comedy veterans strewn in. But an amusing cast can only be taken so far when coupled with below mediocre execution and a script that attempts to pull a chuckle from you by using “fuck” in every other sentence said by each of the characters… spoiler, it gets tedious, very fast. It’s quite the disappointment watching the talent of these actors wasted on jokes that feel as though they were part of the rough draft and somehow ended up in the final cut of the film. Some, and I mean some, of the good moments come from the chemistry between the two featured duos. Bell and Baptiste, who have shared a screen before in the well-written comedy The Good Place, are again duos and their chemistry works very well. The two are fluid and cohesive, helping to alleviate some of the poorly written jokes. And of course, the entertaining duo of Vaughn and Hauser catches you by surprise as they deliver an interesting dynamic.
But again, it’s the script and the writing that deteriorate the quality of this film, with jokes that are dragged on for far too long. And the dubious, and out-of-place political jokes that are thrown in here and there for absolutely no reason other than shock value, feel so misplaced. Queenpins painful humor lacks the wit and adds scatological jokes instead, forcing you to roll your eyes at the attempted quirkiness the film is going for. Along with the incompetently written punchlines, most of the pacing is intentionally slowed down as a way to write in numerous montages, as well as presenting the far too boringly linear narrative. And the motivations of these characters, particularly Connie, make no sense as she goes from feeling bored as a housewife and decides to fix that by defrauding MILLIONS of dollars from companies. There is no sensibly written reason presented as to why these two decided to jump from 0-100, other than they’re bored and wanted to be like robin hood? So essentially, there are really no motivations written for our characters, and I can only assume it’s because Gaudet and Pullapilly wanted to get the show on the road.
Not only is the writing an absolute mess, but this film also does not give the audience any reason to forgive the mistakes, such as the cinematography. Queenpins lack soul by using shots that feel so depressing as if you’re watching a 90’s after-school special, with dull and steady shots. Colors are muddied and tainted by the almost gray composites displayed throughout the film. The film’s decisions to include uninteresting shots dilute the tiny amount of emotion that we’re given to work with. And unfortunately for the film, the runtime only drags the film more, feeling extremely exhausting by the end, making you wonder how long until it’s all over.
By the end of the film, as it closes with narration, you’re expected to justify the actions of these two defrauders, but it’s easy to see these ladies throughout the film were just bored and decided to live a life of crime. With tension frustratingly averted, motivations unexplained, and clichés packed in, Gaudet and Pullapilly write a lazy film with almost no personality. An opportunity to tell a real story about an outrageous event featuring coupons wasted on bad jokes and political humor that falls flat. Even with a cast so competent, it’s not hard to see the two directors had no idea what to do with some of them, like Joel McHale who was given nothing to do for the almost 2 hours this film ran on for. Once the final words of narration are said, the credits start rolling and you can’t help but feel bamboozled, wanting more, and never given anything else except the feeling of regret that you purchased a ticket.