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'Poolman' Review: Despite Chris Pine's Efforts This is a Dive into Disappointment

By Jack Ransom June 28, 2024

The directorial debut of Chris Pine.

I’m all for actors flexing their directorial chops. Clint Eastwood has given us countless excellent films from behind as well as in front of the camera. Jordan Peele - a triple hit of horror (Get Out, Us and Nope), John Krasinski - A Quiet Place and the sequel, Bradley Cooper - A Star is Born and Maestro, Ben Affleck - Gone Baby Gone, The Town and more. Can Chris Pine follow in this footsteps, with his Chinatown inspired stoner comedy mystery? The answer is a resounding “No.”


Poolman follows Darren Barrenman (Pine), an unwavering optimist and native Angeleno who spends his days looking after the pool of the Tahitian Tiki apartment block and fighting to make his hometown a better place to live.


Quite frankly this is a boring, perplexing and irritating chore that got two small chuckles out of me in the opening 15 minutes and then proceeded to completely drown in its own baffling and dull nonsensical noir inspired tale. It desperately wants to be a Coen Brothers Lebowski-esque blend of surrealist, drug infused humour and imagery, along with a crime flick. The pacing, tone and engagement is just completely all over the place and I guarantee that you will swiftly lose track of what’s going on.

The only redeeming quality is that the direction and cinematography is solid. The gleaming, glossy and sticky heat of L.A. is captured well and the occasional trippy interlude is distinct (Pine’s character pays a visit to a wise iguana a couple of times - unfortunately not as interesting as it sounds). The score isn’t distinct at all and editing-wise you could’ve told me certain scenes were completely in the wrong order and I would've believed you.


The entire cast performances feel like they were improvised at certain points, especially when everyone starts spouting random crap all over one another. Pine is clearly committed to the material, but Darren is a frustratingly in-between character that isn’t cooky or likeable enough to actually be interested in. Danny DeVito and Annette Benning are a watchable duo… but both have nothing interesting to say and Jennifer Jason Leigh and Clancy Brown are both ‘just there.’

Poolman is bizarre, confusing, convoluted chore that never rises to being funny or engrossing. Pine’s work behind the camera and the setting are solid, but the plot, characters, humour and pacing take a steep dive into a belly flop and miss the pool completely.

Star Rating

Rating When Evil Lurks

Poolman is now streaming on Prime Video


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