“Okay, here goes nothin’.”
Story: Two women who try their best and still can’t break even decide to take their high level couponing higher. Y’know by counterfeiting coupons. Naturally, they get busted…but it’s the journey to that destination, right?
Genre I’d put it in: Based-on-a-true-story Comedies That Could Have Been Better
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on a true story.
Gotta say: Okay, so I got this screener yesterday afternoon and hit theaters today, so I’m cranking this out top speed, no edits. Let’s do this… Interesting premise. High quality actors giving it their best. The comedic teamwork of leads Kristen Bell and Kirby Howell-Baptiste.
The plot goes from the ladies being sympathetic to being Breaking Bad Couponers. There’s no character changes to make me feel this switch is emotionally acceptable. From couponers to gun runners to…being sad? Stupid characters can only be stupid for so long until we need more depth from them, regardless of the talent of the performers. Queenpins is s just wonky and uneven. And while the cameraderie between Bell and Howell-Baptiste is legit, the dialogue is sloppy, with lines added to lengthen scenes. Add in hot takes that are a bit too on the nose (they buy a ton of guns to “clean” their money, and then Jojo says “that probably shouldn’t have been that easy.”)
This is a unique story that way overstays it’s welcome by taking the lazy way out in terms of storytelling, and throws the kitchen sink at the plot, piling on subplots and side stories with reckless abandon. It’s the talent of the cast – Bell, Howell-Baptiste, Stephen Root, Vince Vaughn – that holds this threadbare jumble of a film together. Special shout out to Paul Walter Hauser, who plays the hapless fraud investigator Ken, played by Hauser as the Dunning–Kruger effect in human form. How Ken lucks into working the case is a hoot, thanks to his Abbott and Costello-esque banter with Vaughn’s straightlaced Federal agent. (Though Vaughn’s character referencing Keyser Söze was way too much, y’all. My eyes hurt from the rolling.)
Gotta admit that halfway through the film, I was gobsmacked this had another hour left. I think I might have groaned. Maybe I’m just not in the mood to slam a two hour film while currently jonesing for the next episode of American Horror Story, and that casual viewers who are just looking for a non-taxing tale will enjoy a dramedy with a mix of slapstick and deadpan humor. But right now? Queenpins feels like a bunch of scenes stitched together that got a few chuckles out of me, and has character surprises instead of character development. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m tired from this. I’m gonna nap.
#Protip: tl;dr? Rewatch Hustlers instead. Save this one for streaming.