Chris Pine praised for joyful response to terrible reviews of directorial debut

‘It’s ultimately been the best thing that’s ever happened to me,’ actor-director claimed

Nicole Vassell
Friday 10 May 2024 09:16 BST

Chris Pine is being praised for his reaction to the negative reviews of his directorial debut, Poolman.

The Don’t Worry Darling star made his directorial debut with the LA-based comedy-mystery, tracking a pool cleaner who is roped into a scheme to uncover corruption and shady business dealings in the city.

When the film had its first screenings in September 2023, it was widely panned by critics, with some deeming it “abysmal” and even walking out of its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Ahead of Poolman’s international release, Pine, 43, spoke about the reactions to the film on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, hosted by Josh Horowitz. He noted that receiving movie critique as a director is different to how he’d receive it as just an actor.

“Criticism as an actor is just a part of the game, but there’s a lot of stuff to hide behind,” Pine said.

“There’s the director and the writer and the release pattern, etc. As an actor you come on set and you do your dance and you go off and by the time the film comes out you’ve done X amount of other projects.

“The closest thing I would imagine this is like – co-writing, directing, and starring in – is a stand-up comedian on stage feeling utterly naked. It’s been a real come-to-Jesus moment to seeing how resilient I am.”

Chris Pine
Chris Pine (Getty Images)

Pine, who also stars in the film as central character Darren, went on to admit that although he “tried to make a joyful film”, seeing it get panned in Toronto was “quite something”.

Still, he looked towards the positives in what the situation has taught him. “It’s ultimately been the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Pine said.

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“It’s forced me to double down on joy and really double down on what I love most about my job, which you kind of forget, it’s fundamentally about play. You become children for hours a day and make believe. There’s an impish quality that I don’t want to lose.”

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

He added: “I watched my film. After the reviews in Toronto I was like maybe I did make a pile of s***... I went back and watched it. I f***ing love this film. I love this film so much.”

In response, some fans have expressed appreciation for Pine’s sunny outlook on social media.

One person on X/Twitter wrote: “Good! Normalise liking your own movies even if others don’t.”

This sentiment was shared by another commenter who replied to a remark that said “Chris Pine refused to accept his film is bad” with: “Why does he have to ‘accept’ anything?”

In September, The Hollywood Reporter critic Michael Rechtshaffen called Poolman 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”.

Poolman is out in the US now, and will be available on Prime Video in the UK from 7 June.

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