The germ of a good idea is poorly developed and amateurishly executed in “The Misanthrope,” writer-helmer Allen Colombo’s contempo spin on the classic Moliere comedy. Centering on a curmudgeonly elementary school teacher who brings his dreams of thespian glory to bear on pre-adolescent charges, low-budget feature is too unfocused and sloppy in presentation to exploit its promising concept, let alone brave commercial waters.
Proud if deluded, 5th-grade teacher Artemis (Ali Farahnakian) fancies himself a great actor undiscovered, though no one else shares that sentiment — and a broken marriage further attests to his terminally bad social skills. When he’s snubbed by casting for a local legit production of “Misanthrope,” he decides to mount the play anyway as a school project, never minding the students’ understandable bewilderment or the skepticism of a principal (Jennifer Joan Taylor) who secretly views this binge-drinking, unreliable employee as marriage material. Variable perfs and some potentially funny situations are all ill-served by pic’s staging, editorial rhythms and penchant for wobbly hand-held lensing. Soundtrack is curiously dominated by the mighty strains of a Wurlitzer organ.