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Chalk (2006)

DVD Cover (Virgil Films And Entertainment)
Comedy Drama, Comedy Of Manners, Mockumentary
Mike Akel Mike Akel
Troy Schremmer Troy Schremmer
Janelle Schremmer Janelle Schremmer
Shannon Haragan Shannon Haragan
Chris Mass Chris Mass
Jeff Guerrero Jeff Guerrero

-- / 10 - Not Yet Rated

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 21, 2007
Christopher Guest perfected the mockumentary. Hell, he practically invented it. "This Is Spinal Tap" paved the way for an entire genre that brought us "Waiting for Guffman", "Best In Show", "A Mighty Wind" and non-Guest mockumentaries like "Drop Dead Gorgeous", "Forgotten Silver" and "Memron". The latest in this grand tradition is the film "Chalk", which I just missed at the 2006 Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. Written and directed by Mike Akel, "Chalk" is a low budget comedy that throws in some dramatic elements for a more rounded experience.

The film follows a first-year teacher, Mr. Lowrey (Troy Schremmer), as he deals with everything from his bulging lack of self-confidence as a teacher to advances from the P.E. teacher, Coach Webb (Janelle Schremmer). We also meet Mr. Stroope (Chris Mass), a third-year history teacher who cares more about winning 'Teacher of the Year' than anything else in the world, even enlisting his students to help him win the election. There's also Mrs. Reddell (Shannon Haragan), a former teacher who now serves as assistant principal and has to deal with everything from cats running around in the building to making sure all of the teachers stay as happy as possible. The film paints a somewhat grim portrait of teaching and bases itself on the statistic that 50% of all teachers quit the profession before their third-year of teaching has expired. That's pretty sad, indeed.

The film works some times, and then it doesn't. "Chalk" tackles a very interested subject matter and gives us some insight into just what it's like for some of these teachers. Mr. Lowrey, I think, best represents the frustration that these teachers feel. He can't connect with his students, he has a difficult time blending in with the other faculty, and even goes so far as to check out a book on classroom management from the school's library. Mr. Stroope is on the other end of the spectrum, the cocky and self-assured teacher who would rather be a student's friend than mentor. "Chalk" approaches all different kinds of teachers and paints them all in very different lights. Where the film fails is in the entertainment portion. Sometimes, the film is just kind of boring. When the film is firing, it really works. When it's not, it really just kind of drags there. "Chalk" would have been a far better film if we could have seen more scenes of teachers actually interacting with students, instead of most of the film dealing with teachers interacting with other teachers.

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