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Chalk (2007)

Troy Schremmer , Janelle Schremmer , Mike Akel  |  PG-13 |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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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.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Arts Alliance America
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2007
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,693 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Chalk" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It's the start of a memorable new year at Harrison High. The self-conscious Mr. Stroope is convinced that his time has come: this year he will be furnished with the golden title of "Teacher of the Year". That is, if his smarter students will just stop using words he doesn't understand. Peek into Mr. Lowrey's History class and you'll see that he's struggling to even call himself a teacher. Woefully inept due to a complete lack of both experience and social skills, he earnestly stutters his way through class. The only interaction his students offer him is when they steal his chalk. Men aren't much interested in the spunky and officious Coach Webb, but as she says,"not all P.E. teachers are gay," and she pines for some romantic company. Her former best friend, the newly-appointed assistant principal, Mrs. Reddell, doesn't seem to have time for her either, as her new power-post is all-consuming; battling egos, and enduring teacher conferences and her lighthouse- obsessed boss. Coach Webb wonders if her former confidante has forgotten just how hard teaching really is.

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars B+ September 12, 2007
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like it is . . . October 1, 2007
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chalks up to an A September 30, 2007
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I thought this was a real documentary December 22, 2007
By Allison
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very very funny and touching at the same time August 10, 2007
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great mockumentary!
Best Mockumentary EVER! well maybe not as good as spinal tap but really fun
Published 27 days ago by Daniel Allison
1.0 out of 5 stars An insult to all teachers
An not true to life fictionalized dreamed up insult to all good teachers everywhere....waste of time and money.
Published 1 month ago by Erica
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time
I was really looking forward to seeing the movie, but it is all acted out and bad acting at that.
Published 6 months ago by Allie L
5.0 out of 5 stars EVERY TEACHER NEEDS TO SEE!
It's obvious that this screenplay was written by teachers and comically addresses the pitfalls and foibles of the education profession. Read more
Published 7 months ago by LEA
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for educators
Great movie! It was funny and silly and sometimes made you forget it was a movie, not a documentary. A great gift for secondary school teachers. A must for first year teachers! :)
Published 12 months ago by Lili G
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty funny and ironic
I couldnt tell if this was a real documentary at first or just a mockumentary. Loved the story and characters.
Published 16 months ago by Governor
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome for educators!
As a MS principal, I found this to be hilarious. My wife, not an educator, had a hard time relating. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Sooner fan in TX
4.0 out of 5 stars Chalk the movie as a teaching tool
I used this movie for a class assignment and it worked very well. I also lent the movie to the professor of my linguistics class.
Published 23 months ago by Angela Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars The joy of teaching?
Very sharp, very smart and very, very funny film about the joys and perils of teaching. "Chalk" follows a group of young educators (three teachers and an assistant principal)... Read more
Published on February 28, 2012 by Scadhog
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I chose to view Chalk with the expectation of viewing a comedy that exposed the absurdities within the world of teaching that make individual moments tough but the career as a... Read more
Published on June 19, 2011 by LK
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