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Chalk

3.5 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the comedic style of the "The Office" and the films of Christopher Guest, CHALK is a spirited portrait of life in the trenches of that most honorable and frustrating profession... teaching.

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Using his high school teaching experience as impetus, director Mike Akel made Chalk to encourage school reform through enlightening viewers to the challenges teachers face. This comedic mockumentary capitalizes on four teachers' frustrations during the course of their school semester, by interviewing them individually as well as placing them together in scenes depicting faculty meetings, school spelling bees, and happy hours at a local bar. Allegedly real, though clearly ironic in the style of Christopher Guest's Waiting for Guffman or Spinal Tap, Chalk's characters expose themselves as actors through subtle hints, such as when P.E. Coach Webb (Janelle Schremmer) states her heterosexuality outright in her introduction to the camera. Later, Mrs. Reddell (Shannon Haragan), a teacher struggling with her promotion to Assistant Principal, clumsily breaks up a schoolyard fight with physical comedy reminiscent of the Three Stooges. Two history teachers, Mr. Lowrey (Troy Schremmer), the bumbling beginner, and Mr. Stroope (Chris Mass), who aggressively pursues the Teacher of the Year award, act as polar opposites to illustrate how neither whimpy coddling nor harsh militarism will work in the classroom. As Lowrey complains in the teacher's lounge that someone has stolen his yogurt from the fridge, Stroope's in the field shooting cans to blow off stress. Ultimately, the comedy makes way for touching scenes showing Mr. Lowrey's major improvement, and the realization that America loses many of its best teachers to messy academic infrastructure, lack of teacher support and financial hardship, making Chalk entertaining but also politically astute. --Trinie Dalton

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Troy Schremmer, Janelle Schremmer, Shannon Haragan, Jeff Guerrero, Chris Mass
  • Directors: Mike Akel
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: Arts Alliance America
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2007
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000SQFBXW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,822 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Chalk" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
They really had me going. I thought for sure when I was watching "Morgan Spurlock Presents: `Chalk'" I was watching a documentary. Indeed the acting is so natural it took me until a silhouetted fantasy scene half way through the movie to figure out it was not. Featuring mainly three teachers and one assistant principal, all the mishaps of education come to fruition at fictitious Harrison High School in Texas. Filmed in Austin, TX and New York City, the tightly knit pseudo simulation year-in-a-life escapades are often funny and very familiar. Nothing happens even in the bigger moments that doesn't look like real life. We see the teachers in the classroom, in the teacher's lounge, and being videotaped at their residences. 'Chalk' does to education what 'The Office' does to the workplace.

The Faculty: Mr. Lowrey (Troy Schremmer) is a first year social studies teacher with a first class case of the jitters. He stutters and his stilted lectures prove that those who can (as in come from "The Real World" with a technical job) can't necessarily teach. (In that respect he's no Jaime Escalante.) Admirably, he tries to loosen up and change up the lesson plans and delivery. Cell phones and missing chalk all but derail the lessons, but at least his learning curve gets him high marks.

Mr. Jack Stroope (Chris Mass) is an energetic third year history teacher. He spends all his waking hours on his job as many do. Abrasive, yet caring, he's a coach and a tireless tutor who will go out on a limb to motivate his students. He can only be faulted for his self-promoting campaign to become "Teacher of the Year". His new year's (academic year that is) resolution is to give up sarcasm.

Coach Lindsey Webb (Janelle Schremmer) is a second year PE teacher.
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Format: DVD
True-to-life documentary-style film in which four completely believable actors and three classes of real students at Travis High School in Austin, Texas, tell it like it is in American public schools. Troy Schremmer as first-year teacher Mr. Lowrey is a fish out of water who gets off on the wrong foot the first day, wrangles with students over misbehavior and ringing cell phones, and eventually evolves as his students decide miraculously not to give up on him. His fellow teachers have their own griefs, gripes, and conflicts - sometimes with students and sometimes with each other.

Meanwhile, a new assistant principal finds herself putting in long hours that alienate her from the faculty she hopes to serve. Many scenes make you cringe; many more make you laugh; often you don't know whether to laugh or cry. While there are small successes along the way, the ambivalent ending is perfect. We now know the truth behind the opening statistic, that 50% of teachers quit in the first three years. Produced on a shoe string, the DVD's feature commentary (by director, cowriter, and producer) is almost as entertaining as the film itself.
Comment 11 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Like other reviewers, I first thought I was watching a real documentary - it's that good. I cringed as I watched "Mr. Lowery," who doesn't seem to be suited to the teaching profession. "Coach Webb" was totally believable in the way she connected to her students and alienated her coworkers. The assistant principal was perfect. "Mr Stroope" was a little over the top as he drew his students into his quest to be "teacher of the year."

I would agree completely with reviewers who are happy to see a movie that doesn't feature a heroic teacher defying the system or smooth, beautiful spoiled teens. This movie works because it's just so...real.

The DVD is worth watching for all the bonus material, especially the director's commentary. The work is almost entirely improv and some cast members are new to acting. The entire film was "in the can" for less than $10K. The narrators point out many small but significant points that most audience members will miss.
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Format: DVD
I actually thought this was a real documentary by the guy who filmed Super Size Me about the struggles of novice teachers until a goofy dream sequence, which made it obvious that none of it was real. I realized this was actually a mockumentary in the style of the TV show The Office. I think the filmmakers should have left this fantasy sequence out, because, while funny, it took me out of the movie. The film felt very authentic until that sequence. It felt like a warts and all portrait of teaching, not something all glossy like Mr. Holland's Opus or Mr. Chips. The actors are very natural in their roles and look like ordinary people, not movie stars. A good film, but it should have cut out the dream sequence and the other few scenes (like one with a teacher throwing a desk) that ruined the real-life feel of the film. I would definitely recommend this to teachers or those thinking of becoming teachers.
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Format: DVD
I saw this in the theaters 6 times during the 7 week run it had in Austin, TX. Two of those times the audience was FULL of teachers who loved it. Me...I'm an engineer, and our 30 member department went to see it one afternoon and many of them laughed long and hard. NOTE a correction to the editorial review above - the film never tells if Lowrey resigned or not.
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