Carl Reiner was in an especially jovial mood the other day during one leg of a daunting, nationwide promotion tour for his new film, "Sibling Rivalry," that would have tired a man half his age.
But Reiner, tall, trim and as busy as ever at 68, still looks a lot like his most well-known character, Alan Brady, the arrogant variety show host on the old "Dick Van Dyke Show."
His good humor was evident despite decidedly mixed reviews about the movie, his latest film in a career that spans 40 years. Reiner directed "Sibling Rivalry."
The critics have not been not especially kind to the comedy, which stars Kirstie Alley and involves a man who died during sex with her and the various cases of mistaken identity that occur as a result.
"The prospect of a new Reiner comedy is a lip-smacking one. Rob Reiner, that is. Not papa Carl, whose best comedies were made years ago," wrote the New York Post film critic in panning "Sibling Rivalry."
Carl Reiner does not dispute those sentiments.
"Rob had the toughest time of all my kids," he said. "He wanted to be in show business, and he had a father who was going on all cylinders. He was in competition with me, and he was impatient. Then he ended up outrunning Dad."
Reiner lists his son's movies with pride, saying, "He's been up at bat six times, and you can't find anything really wrong with his work."
Reiner also said that his son "outstripped me as far as acting, too. Whenever they'd see us on the street, they'd start yelling, 'Hey Meathead!' One time, somebody called him Meatloaf, and I yelled back, 'No, it's Meathead!' "
According to Carl Reiner, family members have always been competitive with each other, but they've also remained loyal.
Reiner's brother, Charlie, who owns a printing business in Atlanta, was always the "funnier one" when they were growing up in the Bronx, the sons of a watchmaker.
"But Charlie suffered because I was the more quiet, studious one and my mother would always say, 'Why can't you be more like your brother, Carl?' We still talk about it."
But it was his brother who urged him to enroll in drama school and become an actor. And his brother still religiously tapes all Reiner's appearances on TV and saves all news clippings about him. "Every time I'm on Carson, he still tapes it," Reiner said.
Reiner's other two children are daughter, Annie, a playwright and artist, and Lucas, who directed the film "Spirit of '76."
"My other kids have had a problem with it," said Reiner of both his success and Rob's. "Annie was showing some of her work recently, and the first people who greeted her at the door said, 'Aren't you Carl Reiner's daughter?' She's trying to have her own identity. You want to make it on your own."
But Reiner said his family is very close-knit and often gathers for dinners at the Beverly Hills home he shares with his wife of 47 years, Estelle.
Even if he believes Rob has surpassed him as a director, Carl Reiner is keeping as busy as ever. He continually sifts through new scripts in search of a movie to direct. He was eager to return to Beverly Hills, where he's in the midst of a novel about Hollywood.
"I'm a worker," he said. "I've worked steadily all my life. I've become venerable. I've gone through several incarnations, but I've kept current. There's a whole generation of adults who grew up with me."