May 10, 202450/1005 min
Chris Pine, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Danny DeVito, Annette Bening
Written by
Chris Pine and Ian Gotler
Directed by
Chris Pine
Run Time
1h 40min
Release Date
May 9th, 2024
Overall Score
Rating Summary

I have a deep love for movies, a fact that should be evident to anyone who reads my writing about them. While I’m open to watching anything, there’s a special place in my heart for noir films. There’s just something about a good noir story that captivates me. So, needless to say, I was quite excited for Chris Pine’s directorial debut, a noir film that seems to channel a bit of the Little Lebowski Urban Achiever vibe. But the real question is, does that vibe hold up throughout the film?

Darren Berrenman (played by Chris Pine) leads a simple life. He resides in an apartment complex, and as the title suggests, he’s the complex’s pool man. However, his job doesn’t define him; he’s passionate about making Los Angeles a better place. He tries to enact change by speaking at city council meetings, something he views as his civic duty. His life takes an unexpected turn when he’s arrested after a particularly heated council meeting. June (DeWanda Wise) bails him out and enlists his help in exposing corruption between a developer and a city councilman. With the assistance of Jack (Danny DeVito) and Diane (Annette Bening), Darren sets out to unravel a web of corruption. Along the way, things take some bizarre turns, involving a talking lizard, a tree, and an elaborate stage production of The Golden Girls.

Pine co-wrote the screenplay with Ian Gotler, and while Poolman boasts a promising premise, it doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights it aspires to. Nevertheless, it’s a wild ride that will delight those who are on its wavelength. However, those who resist its eccentricity may find it a bit too outlandish. Poolman is a film best enjoyed by letting it take you wherever it wants to go. With its unique sense of humor, including spot-on references and absurd yet natural humor, it’s a treat for fans of noir, like myself. Pine skillfully places his characters in a 40s-style noir setting, rendered in vibrant color. The result is a satisfying homage to the genre, while also poking fun at some of its conventions. For me, it simply works and delivers the entertaining ride I was hoping for.

Poolman is the kind of movie you either embrace or reject. I fall into the former category and thoroughly enjoyed myself, especially with nods to Chinatown sprinkled throughout. Pine, who seems to do it all, shines as the endearing lead, making Darren a character you’d love to meet in real life. The rest of the cast, led by DeVito and Bening, deliver performances that add to the film’s enjoyment. I’m grateful for Poolman’s existence and look forward to connecting with others who appreciate its unique vibe. It’s a day at the pool that went exactly as planned

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