Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Troy Schremmer, Janelle Schremmer, Shannon Haragan, Jeff Guerrero, Chris Mass
Director: Mike Akel
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Studio: Arts Alliance America Release Date: 05/27/2008 Run time: 82 minutes Rating: Pg13
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Member Movie Reviews
Paula G. from ODESSA, TX
Reviewed on 2/23/2010...
It needs an emotionally disturbed unit teacher.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 09/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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. A stickler to the rules, she stalks the halls, taking her colleagues to task for not upholding the tardy policy. However, at least in her own classes, her vibrant presence takes an admirable tack. One of the first things she lets us know is that just because she wears short hair and is a PE teacher, doesn't mean she's gay.
Mrs. Reddell (Shannon Haragan) is a first year assistant principal. Both she and her colleagues are shocked at how different things are when she steps out of the classroom. Consulting with fellow AP Mr. Odel, she learns quickly that the paper chase is perhaps even worse out of the classroom. The funniest chase, however, is when she's running down the halls with her walkie-talkie trying to capture students up to mischief.
Subject Matter: Giving too many details of the humorous developments is a spoiler, so I'll just give a topic overview: Tentative copiers, after class conferences, low departmental resources, accidental mishaps, teacher infatuation, and gaffes steeped in fatigue are all par for the course. There are plenty of philosophical statements by educators who are on a turn sage and often so in the thick of it they're blind-sided.
Evaluation: 'Chalk' is a B+ movie. The feel is comfortable. We can recognize, sympathize, and laugh at the folly and frustrations of the educators' lot in life. The film gets high marks for editing and authenticity.
Reflection: I am a teacher, and I could relate to nearly all the foibles and predicaments of the protagonists. Being in those shoes, I found the film funny and cathartic. At the beginning the movie states that 50 percent of all teachers move on within the first three years of instruction. Despite poking fun of all players and the process, you can surely say it is sympathetic."
Like it is . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 10/01/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Chalks up to an A
Dr Cathy Goodwin | Seattle, WA USA | 09/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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.