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Chris Pine Embraces His Latest Film Despite Critic Disapproval


Critics may have a low opinion of Chris Pine’s latest film, “Poolman,” but the actor-director remains deeply passionate about the project.

Released in theaters on Friday, this indie comedy-mystery had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2023. Pine not only stars as the protagonist, Darren Barrenman, but also directs the film, which revolves around a pool caretaker in Los Angeles who recruits friends to uncover suspicious dealings involving a politician and land developer.

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

Featuring a star-studded cast including Annette Bening, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Danny DeVito, “Poolman” was co-written by Pine and Ian Golter.

“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,” Pine told Horowitz. “It’s been a real come-to-Jesus moment to seeing how resilient I am.”

Despite the impressive lineup, critical reception has been harsh. The film received a dismal 19% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with reviews criticizing various aspects.

One scathing review came from Variety critic Owen Gleiberman, who labeled “Poolman” as one of the worst films he had seen in recent memory.

In a conversation with Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Pine discussed how he deals with criticism, using it as an opportunity for personal growth.

“When the film came out at Toronto and just got f—king panned … I tried to make a joyful film,” Pine told Horowitz during his Happy Sad Confused podcast (via Variety). “With so much joy behind it, to then be met with a fusillade of not-so-joyous stuff … the cognitive dissonance there was quite something.”

While Pine is accustomed to acclaim, having starred in blockbuster hits like the “Star Trek” franchise, he remains undeterred by the negative reception to “Poolman.”

“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,” Pine told Horowitz. “You become children for hours a day and make-believe. There’s an impish quality that I don’t want to lose.”

For Pine, the experience of creating “Poolman” reaffirmed his passion for filmmaking, leading him to declare it as the best thing that has happened to him.

“I watched my film. After the reviews in Toronto, I was like maybe I did make a pile of s—t,” Pine told Horowitz. “I went back and watched it. I f—king love this film. I love this film so much.”

Unapologetic about his vision for “Poolman,” Pine embraces the film’s release, which marks his directorial debut, with screenings scheduled in 160 theaters for its opening weekend.

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