It is easy to understand why Rick Reynolds’ one-person perusal through the wear-and-tear of being an adult is being developed into an as-yet-unscheduled CBS series. Roaming in front of a minimalist living room set, Reynolds gives a colorful and detailed oral history of his life with an attractive, independent-minded wife and two adorable but rascally boys, while offering his personal philosophies on such universal subjects as sex, romantic love, parenting, aging and the periodic marital schisms and reconciliations. Reynolds’ intense, punchy approach to his narrative actually sounds like he is pitching a series concept.
Reynolds presents no inventive, humor-laden situations, clever plot twists or profound insights during his discourse. He readily admits to being “trite” and simply explains how the stuff of his existence has affected him. Though Reynolds does not always seem sure of where he is going next with material that tends to rehash itself, “All Grown Up …” evolves into a poignant, often funny portrait of a man who has learned to become deeply committed to and influenced by the people he loves.
The former standup comic, whose previous one-person show (“Only the Truth Is Funny”) was aired by Showtime, spends a good deal of the evening on the rise and fall and rise again of his relationship with his wife, Lisa, underscoring his own idiosyncrasies and foibles along the way.
He soars through their deeply romantic courtship and the highlights of their parenting years in the Bay Area community of Petaluma. He is much more serious when he gets to the period when their “relationship ran out of gas.” Describing a time when they literally hated each other, Reynolds exudes a sense of the Herculean effort it took on both their parts to save their marriage.
When he gets to his young boys, Jack and Cooper, he states simply, “I love my children but they have ruined my life.” Reynolds then proceeds to bathe the audience in his unabashed joy at being a father.
When he is not dwelling on spouse and progeny, Reynolds makes intermittent forays into his own difficulties in dealing with having a professional life as a standup comedian and writer for TV and film.
His funniest reminiscence, an example of his lifelong struggle with following rules, deals with an incident in which he and two other standup comedians tried to entertain an audience of irreverent prison inmates. Watching the first two comics go down in flames, Reynolds launches into every subject he was warned by prison officials would be taboo: sodomy, rape, racism, etc. Appealing to their prurient interests got him a standing ovation but no invitation to return.
Reynolds sums up his struggle to obtain maturity and happiness by admitting he has finally come to terms with life’s compromises. And as he and his wife continue to fan the embers of their relationship, they have both come to the realization that Reynolds’ inability to censure himself will always be an embarrassment in the company of others. He shrugs, “I tell everybody everything there is to know about me.”