Poolman | Review by: Benjamin Garrett

 Back in September of 2023, Poolman made headlines when it premiered at TIFF. Unfortunately, those headlines included audience walkouts, as well as nearly universal panning from both critics and the general public. Is Chris Pine’s directorial debut so bad that it warrants leaving the theatre mid movie? I personally don’t think so, even if it is a great big mess. 

Pine attempts to blend a noir detective story with a vibey stoner hangout flick. It’s been done before - just look at The Big Lebowski, which was clearly a big inspiration here. Unfortunately, he doesn’t strike a balance and the whole flow of the movie gets thrown off. The plot is insanely convoluted as it plucks ideas and plot points from about a dozen better movies. The more casual moments are more successful, but give the movie an aimlessness that further dilutes the story it’s trying to tell. 

So much of the runtime is taken up by characters yapping nonsense at each other. It’s amusing, sure, but it’s hard to differentiate between mindless word vomit and conversations that are crucial to the advancement of the plot. I’ll admit, I got a kick out of Pine’s goofy, simple-minded character fumbling through his first high profile case, but that’s kind of the whole schtick, and it gets a bit stale long before the film is over. 

Yet, I can’t help but feel the passion that went into making this movie. You can really see Pine’s love for the city of Los Angeles, and his admiration for the movies that inspired him to make this one. In a world so full of soulless, uninspired cash grabs that feel almost factory made, it’s nice to see films get made that are important to the creator’s heart. 

Poolman’s hollow quirkiness is just enough to keep its clunky, scattershot story from veering into disastrous territory. Yet, there's an undeniable charm that stems from Pine’s passion that went into this directorial debut. 


Review by: Benjamin Garrett

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