Chalk, written and directed by former teacher Mike Akel, and presented by Morgan Spurlock, is a mockumentary film about teachers at the typical public high school, Harrison High. The film is raw, realistic, and funny in a really dark and depressing way. The characters remind me of many of my own teachers growing up, and the situations in the film feel all too familiar, only this time, I get to live them through the teacher’s eyes – a very different perspective.
My boyfriend is a high school physics teacher, and I can’t understand why he loves his job. This movie perplexes me even more about the appeal of his career. His salary is significantly lower than mine, and he works so many more hours than I do. While work for my job includes watching movies and surfing the web, his involves reading textbooks and correcting tests. Why would anyone choose to do that? Chalk answers that question by presenting characters like history teacher Mr. Stroope, and PE teacher Coach Webb, who both go above and beyond to make a difference.
While I really enjoyed the acting in this film, and felt that the characters were for the most part well written, inspiring and realistic, Chalk lost me after about the first 20 minutes, where the story began to wear a little thin. It was a great concept, but I felt like I was simply following a few teachers through their daily routines, something that every student or former student is pretty familiar with. A romance brews between Coach Webb, and stuttering first year teacher Mr. Lowrey, and Mr. Stroope works to become the “Teacher of the Year”, but the drama that does exist in the film is a bit one dimensional at the beginning. I wish I cared about the characters more, the way that I cared about my real teachers in high school. Towards the end of the film though, Chalk partially redeems itself, as the bond between the teachers and students is strengthened, and a story begins to come together, but we never have that ultra-dramatic teacher saves a life moment, which I normally love in teacher films. Although it wasn’t entirely to my liking, I do understand the effort that Akel made to avoid making the stereotypical teacher movie. Overall, Chalk gives a realistic look at the world of teaching. It really makes the viewer understand the reason why so many teachers quit within their first three years, and shows the true spirit of those who choose not to.
/Film Rating: 8 out of 10