Poolman: Chris Pine's directorial debut savaged by critics who say it 'belly flops'

The film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival

Chris Pine stars in Poolman (Signature Entertainment/Darren Michaels)
Chris Pine stars in Poolman (Signature Entertainment/Darren Michaels)

Chris Pine’s directorial debut has been savaged by critics who have called it “disastrous” and “a misfire”.

The US star is best known for acting in movies such as Star Trek and Wonder Woman, but has stepped behind the camera for comedy mystery Poolman.

The film – which stars Pine himself alongside Annette Bening and Danny DeVito - is about a pool cleaner who uncovers a heist.

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It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this week and appears to have bombed, triggering a flurry of bad reviews.

The Hollywood Reporter said Poolman seemed to be an attempt to reimagine 1977’s Chinatown but that it “goes tonally off the rails from the start and proceeds to hit bottom with excruciating momentum”, taking the cast down with it.

Labelling the film “a shrill misfire”, the reviewer said that while Pine was “a charismatic actor”, his likability could “only generate so much audience good will in a production overstuffed with cartoonish caricatures lacking any sort of deeper connective tissue”.

Collider gave the film just one out of a possible five stars, saying it was an “unfortunate belly flop”.

“While the neo-noir comedy about a pool cleaner unravelling a conspiracy has its moments that show Pine’s potential as a director, it is a rhythmically erratic and flatly steered film that never makes it above the surface,” said reviewer Tania Hussain.

Chris Pine le 5 septembre 2022 à Venise. (Photo by Laurent KOFFEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Chris Pine at Venice Film Festival in 2022. (Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Slash Film suggested the movie played like a “stretched-out” Saturday Night Live skit.

“The mystery is a convoluted mess, clearly attempting to marry the intrigue of Chinatown with the escalating chaos of a Coen Brothers movie while failing to make things compelling, all while the wacky humour falls flat,” the review said.

Slash also said that while the movie had a comic cast, there was “nothing particularly funny here”.

IndieWire didn’t hold back, calling Poolman “abysmal” and "disastrous".

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Reviewer Siddhant Adlakha said there was no one thing worth singling out but that as a whole it was “one of the worst movies to ever play at a major festival”.

Poolman is also set to be screened at the London Film Festival, which runs from 4 to 15 October.

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