For those fond of ’60s and ’70s pop culture, “Grounded for Life” offers one-liners alluding to everything from old after-shave commercials to the wonders of spreadable cheese. However, these may be too much of a good thing for this production.
“Grounded” follows the life of Pat Holdman (Pat Hazell), a 30ish man-child who took a seventh grade grounding-for-life pretty seriously and has remained in his room for 18 years.
His mother (Maura Soden) still treats him like the prepubescent bad boy, bringing him lunch, doing his laundry, and generally fussing over him. His best buddy Ernie (Gregg Binkley) and girlfriend Tina (Teresa Ganzel) sneak through a trap door to visit him. Life is pretty grounded indeed, with Pat’s big thrills being snatched copies of the newspaper travel section and Tina’s “conjugal” visits.
Unfortunately, sight gags and jokes substitute for humorous dialogue, often overshadowing the fuzzy, comedic plot.
Instead, it’s Hazell’s assured delivery of his words and the stellar performances that save “Grounded” from being just another baby-boomer homage.
Aside from the acting, the highlights in this production are the set design and construction. Since “Pat” has been living in his childhood room for 18 years , he has found ways to have some of the amenities of adulthood. Basically, the place is rigged. There is a plethora of secret compartments all made to look like just part of the furniture. Kudos to designer Keven Lock and the crew for meshing a child’s affection for passageways with an adult’s idea of convenience.
Hazell — a former “Seinfeld” writer, and co-writer a few years ago of “Bunk Bed Brothers,” a successful comedy about avoiding growing up — tries to stay in the same genre here but the result is bogged down in cuteness.