Queenpins: The True-Story of a Million-Dollar Coupon Scam (Yes, Seriously)
8/4/2021 • 4 min read
We love a caper comedy, in part because there aren't many of them — so it's always a refreshing pleasure when a new one shows up. HUSTLERS is one of the last great examples, and that movie starring Jennifer Lopez came out two years ago. Now, STX Films (the same studio which released HUSTLERS) is back with QUEENPINS.
Kristen Bell and Kirby Howello-Baptiste star in this movie about two coupon-counterfeiting women. But QUEENPINS is based on a true story that seems pretty low-stakes. How can fake coupons be a big deal? But this particular scam netted tens of millions of dollars in profits, and in doing so attracted the attention of big companies and a truly fearsome law enforcement agency: The United States Post Office.
Here are all the details on QUEENPINS, including the very funy first trailer.
When Does Queenpins Come Out?
First off, you'll be able to watch Kristen Bell and Kirby Howell-Baptiste evade the long arm of the law (played by Vince Vaughn and Paul Walter Hauser) on September 10.
Watch the Queenpins Trailer
This trailer gives you most of what you need to know about QUEENPINS. It's got earnest comedy, bad decisions, more comedy, and the potential to be a great escape (for everyone but the two main characters, at least).
Queenpins Has a Top-Dollar Cast
Kristen Bell and Kirby Howell-Baptiste ("Killing Eve," CRUELLA) are the two comedic anchors for this true-story caper comedy. The two have worked together before, too, as Bell starred in "The Good Place" and Howell-Baptiste played a recurring role on the show's last two seasons. Howell-Baptiste also played a small role on the "Veronica Mars" revival which appeared in 2019.
All of which means that the two stars had a well-honed comedic rapport even before QUEENPINS started rolling. (Early on, Howell-Baptiste's role looked set to be played by Leslie Jones — who is a major talent in her own right. That casting choice would have led to a very different and probably equally funny movie.)
Every caper needs a solid opposing force to track the main characters, and in QUEENPINS the people dogging the heels of the two main characters are a pair of sort-of lawmen, a supermarket loss prevention officer played by Paul Walter Hauser (I, TONYA and RICHARD JEWELL) and a US Postal Inspector played by Vince Vaughn. Bebe Rexha and Joel McHale also play key roles.
The True Story Behind Queenpins
We're not going to give you all the details of the story that led to the movie because it might have more spoilers than you'd like. Just know that QUEENPINS is based loosely on the story of three women in Phoenix, Arizona — Robin Ramirez, Amiko Fountain, and Marilyn Johnson — who would create fake coupons offering serious discounts to sell on websites like eBay.
These weren't just coupons for a quarter or a dollar off one item. They were massive discounts that buyers would pay $5 or $10 to buy on eBay, and which could then be redeemed in-store for products worth many times more. Ramirez started small in 2007 but the scheme eventually attracted the attention of Procter and Gamble, which in turn hired investigators and eventually brought police into the situation.
The Queenpins Version of Reality
In the movie, Bell plays suburban homemaker Connie, while Howell-Baptiste plays her ambitious but only occasionally savvy vlogger friend JoJo. They discover that coupons for free items are all process through one company, and realizes that they can nab those coupons to resell for a profit. While some of the details and the characters themselves are quite different from reality, the relationship between the movie and the true story behind QUEENPINS is obvious. And a coupon scam that turns into a heist is, admittedly, a fantastic movie idea.
Filmmakers With a Realistic Touch
Filmmakers Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly, who made the deeply effective documentary THE WAY WE GET BY, about a group of senior citizens who greet returning US military personnel at the Bangor International Airport in Maine, wrote and directed QUEENPINS. As the nature of their documentary debut demonstrates, their movies have a real tie to true stories, even if the actual details are exaggerated.
The pair, who are backed by executive producer Ben Stiller, make a great choice to bring this story to the big screen.
QUEENPINS opens on September 10!
All images courtesy of STX Films.