EntertainmentChris Pine's directorial debut "Poolman" sinks after harsh reviews

Chris Pine's directorial debut "Poolman" sinks after harsh reviews

Chris Pine in the movie "Poolman"
Chris Pine in the movie "Poolman"
Images source: © Press materials
5:03 AM EDT, May 12, 2024

"Poolman" was set to premiere in American theaters at the end of last year. However, following its appearance at the Toronto Festival, the film received such poor reviews that the thought of a big-screen release was quickly abandoned. Chris Pine, the creator and Hollywood star behind the film opened up about his feelings upon reading those initial reviews.

This film marked Chris Pine's debut as a director. Known for his roles in blockbuster hits like the "Star Trek" series, "Wonder Woman", and the recent "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves", Pine aimed to create a film reminiscent of Roman Polanski's "Chinatown" but with a comedic twist. He was both the writer and the driving force in funding the project while stepping in front of the camera. Typically, such ambitious endeavors by Hollywood stars end in notable failure—a fate Pine's "Poolman" couldn’t escape.

Pine enlisted Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Ray Wise to bring his movie to life. However, a critic from "Variety" described the film as lacking substance, filled with overused jokes and lengthy, tedious dialogues that lead nowhere despite the stellar cast.

The story of "Poolman" centers on Darren (played by a bearded Chris Pine), a Los Angeles native who maintains a swimming pool at an apartment complex. He strives to improve his city, a journey that pits him against a corrupt politician and greedy developers.

I was literally gutted by the critics

"The Toronto screening was a disaster. Reading the reviews, I was overwhelmed with embarrassment. The criticism was so harsh that I wished I could vanish. I questioned whether I had produced a terrible film. However, after rewatching it, I realized how much I love it. I'm ready to defend it," Pine shared on the "Happy Sad Confused" podcast.

He further explained the difference in facing criticism as an actor compared to a director. As an actor, you can detach yourself; you do your part and move on to other projects before the film is even released. But as a director, your identity is intertwined with your film, Pine summarized.

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