In “Queenpins,” starring Kristen Bell and Vince Vaughn and coming to Paramount + on Sept. 30, two friends take extreme couponing beyond conventional means and cross the line into criminal enterprise.
When writers and directors Gita Pullapilly and Aron Gaudet were looking to cast the roles of Connie Kaminski and Jo Jo Johnson, the two friends at the heart of the coupon caper. Bell was not the first actor to come to mind.
Gaudet said when he first heard Bell mentioned for the role of Connie, the brainchild of the scheme that turns into a multimillion-dolalr scam, he knew she would be great.
“When we met with her and she had responded to the script, one of the first things she said to us was, for some reason, even if my characters are doing criminal acts, breaking the rules, audiences still usually love me,” Gaudet said. “That was something she recognized in herself and in her work. But we knew it was exactly what we needed for Connie.”
While Connie turns to a life of crime, her heart is in the right place. She is easy to root for. Finding her partner in crime, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, was just as easy.
“She had worked with Kirby before,” Gaudet said. “We met with Kirby and she seemed so perfect.”Casting the other buddy element of the movie was an easy match too.
VInce Vaughn plays Simon Kilmurrty, a U.S. Postal Inspector, and Paul Walter Hauser is a loss prevention officer who work together to investigate Connie and Jo Jo. They had established a friendship outside of making movies and they were a good fit too, Gaudet said.
“Paul and Vince as well, when we met with them they had a friendship going off camera before and had wanted to work together,” Gaudet said. “It felt like both of those main duos were friends off camera, had this great chemistry. We just hoped it would carry over into the movie. We kinda think we’re the third buddy duo in the movie.”
Pullapilly said Vaughn and Walter Hauser brought a different kind of chemistry to the movie, one that has a romance element to it.
“The B story of the movie is the love story usually,” Pullapilly said. “We just wanted to try something more creative. In this case we thought wouldn’t it be fun if that B story was Vince and Paul’s journey, which is oil and water, and then in the end they really end up appreciating their friendship and valuing that friendship.”
Gaudet said in the end, the movie has a singular message.
“To us, it’s friends lift each other up,” he said.
Queenpins is produced by AGC Studios, Marquee Entertainment and Red Hour Films. It was produced by AGC’s Linda McDounough and Red Hour’s Nicholas Weinstock.
QUEENPINS is now playing in select Cinemark theaters and streaming on Paramount+