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Chalk


I think we can all agree that high school teacher is not an enviable occupation. They have to deal with unfair salaries, rowdy kids going through puberty and parents who refuse to believe their child is anything but a perfect little angel. Chalk follows the school year of three teachers and one assistant principal who are trying to discover what they want to achieve from their positions.

Grade:

Filmed mockumentary style reminiscent of The Office, the audience is shown what it is like to be a member of a high school staff. Mr. Lowrey, a first year history teacher, learns how to gain the respect of his students without sacrificing his principles. Coach Webb, the in-your-face P.E. teacher, deals with her changing relationship with her closest friend and how the other faculty members view her. Mrs. Reddell, the new assistant principal, discovers that being part of the administration is much more time-consuming than being a teacher without the daily student interaction. Lastly, Mr. Stroope, the hip social studies teacher, shows interest in his students’ lives and growth, but also has his own motives in befriending them.

The best feature of the film is the feeling of genuine reality. The interactions between students and teachers are so real that you begin to forget it isn’t. At times, it seems like the actors who play the teachers were placed in an actual school since the students have such real reactions to their classes. There are a few moments where the reality is ruined (i.e. odd dance scene midway through) and you have to work to regain the interest in the stories.

The different personalities of the main characters are great for diverse plotlines, but some of them are simply uninteresting (Coach Webb in particular). Director Mike Akel attempts to intertwine these stories as they would naturally throughout an academic year, but he fails in preventing the movie seem like four episodes of a show pushed together. Each character has one small event that, apart from Mr. Lowry in the “Spelling Hornet”, does not spark much interest.

In general, you may be mildly entertained throughout. There are some comical moments, but there is almost too strict an adherence to reality because none of it is outright hilarious. Unfortunately, much like most high school classes, there are some moments (aforementioned dance) that pull you out of the story making it difficult to stay interested until the end and you find yourself doing something else with Chalk playing in the background.

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