Chris Pine’s ‘abysmal’ directorial debut prompts festival walkouts

Chris Pine’s ‘abysmal’ directorial debut prompts festival walkouts

Chris Pine is receiving cataclysmically bad reviews for his directorial debut, which reportedly prompted “walkouts” during its premiere.

The Star Trek actor debuted the new film, titled Poolman, at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Wednesday (13 September). Pine also stars in the film, playing a pool cleaner who uncovers a water heist taking place in Los Angeles.

Reviews suggest the film is inspired by Chinatown and The Big Lebowski – but does not come close to capturing the quality of either. In fact, IndieWire’s Siddhant Adlakha said Poolman “will likely go down as one of the worst films to play at any major festival in recent memory”.

Adlakha branded the film a “vanity project”, writing in their review: “It’s the work of a filmmaker who ought to have been told ‘no’ at least one or two hundred times during production.” On X/Twitter, Adlakha said the “abysmal” and “awful” film prompted “walkouts at the premire.

One person who walked out of their screening was journalist Rendy Jones, who wrote on social media: “Chris Pine’s directorial debut POOLMAN started as a joke on the WONDER WOMAN 1984 set. Didn’t know what the joke was and couldn’t endure pass the 40-minute mark to find out. In a way two awful movies came out of WONDER WOMAN 1984”

The Hollywood Reporter critic Michael Rechtshaffen said the film it a “misfire” that “hits bottom with excruciating momentum”, with both Collider and Slashfilm writing the film off as a “belly flop”. The latter’s Rafael Motamayor said the film’s central mystery is “a convoluted mess”.

Meanwhile, Eric Marchen said that Pine “embarrassed himself beyond words” with the film, with Ezra Cubero stating: “It's actually insane how much of a spectacular failure POOLMAN is.”

Pine’s co-stars, including Annette Bening, Danny DeVito and Jennifer Jason Leigh, are also receiving negative reviews for their roles – although several critics claim the only good thing about the film is Stephen Tobolowsky’s performance.

Chris Pine in ‘abysmal’ new film ‘Poolman’ (AGC Films)
Chris Pine in ‘abysmal’ new film ‘Poolman’ (AGC Films)

Pine previously said that he came up with the idea of the film while working on Wonder Woman 1984, which was released in 2020. The actor’s other credits include Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014), Hell or High Water (2016) and this year’s critically acclaimed Dungeons & Dragons Honour Among Thieves.

Poolman is yet to receive distribution, but will premiere in the UK at the BFI London Film Festival in October.