Was ‘Poolman’ Written With Crayons? Chris Pine Is a Hunk, Not a Director

Surely, you hope, this turkey will eventually come to life. Surely, you think, with one eye glancing at the exit door, it will turn out to be about something. But all hopes are eclipsed by its idiotic, self-indulgent nothingness.

Chris Pine in ‘Poolman’, which was shot in 22 days—and looks it. Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

During its catastrophic impact on the film industry, the recent Covid shutdowns and union strikes put a lot of actors out of work, driving them to change career goals and create their own projects—never a good idea if you ask me. Now, the results of all that desperation are polluting marquees everywhere while the world waits for the panic to return to normal. The worst offense among many is a horror called Poolman, a stinker that marks the hopeless directorial debut of Hollywood heartthrob Chris Pine, who also wrote the idiotic screenplay. It was shot in 22 days and looks it. Not only is it the worst movie I have seen this year, this dog is one of the worst movies ever made.

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POOLMAN (0/4 stars)
Directed by: Chris Pine
Written by: Chris Pine
Starring: Chris Pine, Annette Bening, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Danny DeVito
Running time: 100 mins.


Pine plays a brain-dead rebel who lives on the outskirts of society in a trailer, cleans stagnant swimming pools, and models himself after the Big Lebowski. His grandiose goal is to disrupt Los Angeles City Council meetings in outrageous costumes while pretending to improve the environment, re-design the city, and write a documentary about urban renewal, cataloging reams of obvious dementia, which he mails to Erin Brockovich. At night, he frequents seedy bars where he orders egg creams with cinnamon sprinkles. For character depth, he believes he’s being stalked by a tree and talks to lizards. Weaving in and out of this bilge is a distinguished cast of confused supporters that includes Jennifer Jason Leigh as a pilates instructor, Danny DeVito as a washed-up director who uncovers a dangerous political conspiracy, and—believe it or not—Annette Bening, who doesn’t need the money. She must be doing somebody a favor. She plays Devito’s wife and the pool cleaner’s psychiatrist. In L.A., the shrinks are even crazier than their clients. Following her sensational Oscar-nominated role as the renowned swimming champion in last year’s Nyad with this time-waster demands an explanation. 

As an actor, Pine has, in the past, turned in a few unexceptional but acceptably workmanlike performances in such films as Hell or High Water, Honor Among Thieves and Into the Woods. In this disaster, he doesn’t make one word of sense, and I’m not exaggerating. As a director, he doesn’t know where to put the closeup of a foot. As a writer, his screenplay, which seems to have been written by chimpanzees with purple Crayolas, contains the worst line of the decade: “People like me eat people like you. But you’re not even an appetizer. You’re an amuse-bouche.” Even after a moronic muttering like that, one review I read described Poolman as a “wry spin on Chinatown”.  Sure, like Rocky played by Siamese twins.

Surely, you hope, this turkey will eventually come to life. Surely, you think, with one eye glancing at the exit door, it will turn out to be about something. But all hopes are eclipsed by its idiotic, self-indulgent nothingness. One thing is certain: Chris Pine is one of the best-looking of Hollywood’s breed of hunky new hotties. But he even trashes his biggest asset, playing most of Poolman in a bikini with hair down to his chest and a shaggy, hirsute white beard that makes him look like a stoner Santa Claus. I advise him to preserve his movie-star profile for future posterity in a museum where fans can admire his Technicolor countenance for the way Hollywood hunks used to look after graduation from the Nautilus School of Dramatic Art. Nobody is apt to remember him as a director.

Was ‘Poolman’ Written With Crayons? Chris Pine Is a Hunk, Not a Director