It was one of the most elaborate coupon scams you’ve likely never heard about…and the inspiration for STXfilms’ latest film, Queenpins. The coupon heist stars Kristen Bell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Vince Vaughn and was riveting, hilarious, and at times, poignant. Playing exclusively at Cinemark theaters nationwide, Queenpins is a story about dreams, dissapointments, and the decisions that make us who we are.
Dramatic, action-packed, and outlandishly funny, Queenpins is the story of a bored, frustrated homemaker (Kristen Bell) and her best friend (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), who turn a hobby into a multi-million dollar counterfeit coupon caper. I’m highly drawn to films inspired by true events, and this story about the phenomenon of couponing is particularly compelling.
Former Olympic racewalker Connie (Bell) is grieving her last failed fertility treatment and the dream of having her own child with her husband and IRS auditor Rick (Joel McHale). She turns to extreme couponing as her relationship with Rick becomes increasingly estranged, in part due to his excessive work travel and their inability to move forward after loss. The financial burden they have been left with also weighs heavily on their relationship. Connie justifies her bulk shopping habits with the amount of money she is saving the couple, all of which she stores in the nursery that never was.
Connie’s best friend JoJo (Howell-Baptiste) has her own financial and entrepreneurial challenges as she tries to recover from a stolen identity. When Connie’s complaint regarding the quality of an item she purchased results in the brand gifting her with a coupon for a replacement product, she dreams up an elaborate, albeit illegal, couponing scheme. With the social backing of JoJo’s YouTube channel and some help amassing coupons in bulk, the two are the female embodiment of a modern-day Robin Hood. The result is scamming millions from mega-corporations to deliver deals to fellow couponers.
Kristen Bell and Kirby Howell-Baptiste Talk Queenpins
I sat down with Kristen Bell and Kirby Howell-Baptiste to discuss their roles in the film and what compelled them to want to be involved with the project.
Watch the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves -Queenpins
Coupons are as American as apple pie and Howell-Baptiste and Bell are no strangers to coupons. Bell recalls that her grandmother was “an extreme couponer.” She housed hundreds of UPCs in the basement of her home, and her extended family was responsible for sending the UPCs to her. Bell’s grandmother would gather them from a company and send them in for cashier’s checks which she then used to start college funds for her 5 grandchildren. That coupon high, that feeling that no one else is going to get that deal, is something we can all relate to, which is why Queenpins is so fascinating.
Much like the average American, Bell and Howell-Baptiste were unaware of the story prior to receiving the initial script. But it is too outrageous to be untrue. In 2012, three women in Arizona were arrested for an elaborate counterfeit coupon scheme that cost P&G millions of dollars. “None of us had any idea about the story before the script was presented to us,” said Howell-Baptiste. The actress found it interesting that the story has “almost been deliberately silenced” which was another reason she wanted to be a part of the story and have it heard. What these women did was “pretty remarkable” in that they were “trying to better their own lives and the lives of the people around them without causing any direct hurt or pain to any individual” (Howell-Baptiste). Bell didn’t know anything about the story, but stated that “it is an actor’s dream to receive a script that says on the front page ‘based on true events.'” Bell “loved how the directors added such unbelievable specificity to their storytelling.”
As I watched the film, I found myself invested in these two women…almost cheering for their success, despite the illegality of the situation. According to Bell, the filmmakers asked “how do we get you to root for these women who are about to participate in something illegal?” The answer was in the character’s highly relatable storylines. Connie (Bell) struggles with infertility, and “whether you’ve ever struggled with infertility, you can imagine how hard that can be and you immediately have some empathy there” (Bell). Similarly, Connie is a former Olympic racewalker, and Bell had an interesting perspective that most Americans are unaware of with regards to former Olympians. “We all just watched our Olympic athletes, who we put on a pedestal for a number of years, and then completely ignore the rest of their lives.” These athletes often have a lot of trouble paying their bills after they have worked to represent America on the world’s stage…”we completely disregard them.”
Connie’s troubled marriage is unfortunate but all too relatable. “It is a story of being in a marriage that is not serving you at all, and you know that you want to get out of it, but you have no financial way to do so” (Bell). In the film, Connie finally figures out how to do this, and goes to the person she has chosen as her family, JoJo. Bell identifies with this idea of chosen family and how these women supported each other to accomplish their dreams together, while also weighing how far they are willing to let each other go. “Everything about [the film] was so specific and beautiful, on top of the fact that it was based on true events” (Bell).
Queenpins is giving away $500 a day for 21 days starting through September 29th. Visit Queenpins.Movie to enter the Golden Coupon sweepstakes. Enter daily to increase your chances to win.
- Submit your entry at Queenpins.Movie.
- Share your Queenpins ticket stub with #QueenpinsSweeps on Instagram or Twitter
- Post a picture of your girls night out watching Queenpins and use #QueenpinsSweeps on Instagram or Twitter
Queenpins is playing in select Cinemark Theaters nationwide and will be availalbe for streaming on Paramount+ on September 30th.