Neighborhood Food Drive

Scalded by a negative review, the owners of a fine-dining restaurant in gentrifying Humboldt Park (Bruce Bundy, Lyra Hill) organize a series of food-drive parties to score points with the media. I came to this local production hoping for social satire, but any laughs inherent in the premise are smothered by the defensively smug tone, a natural reaction of inexperienced players wrestling with pallid dialogue and groping for their characters. “A group of awful idiots fail at throwing a party over and over,” reads the movie’s tag line, so perhaps writer-director Jerzy Rose was aiming for an off-wack ensemble comedy a la Christopher Guest; the movie throws its sharpest elbow when one character announces, “I believe Santa is love.” More representative is the laborious running gag in which people keep choking on their meals.