Coming as the first film to be branded with the label Morgan Spurlock Presents… but having no work credited to the semi-famous director of anti-McDonald’s documentary Supersize Me and television program “30 Days,” Chalk, a mockumentary in the style of “The Office,” has begun to be released in select cities around the United States.
As the name connotes, high school teachers (and the everyday problems with which they deal) are the focus of the mostly improvised and comedic film. Director/writer Mike Akel and co-writer Chris Mass, each of whom has teaching experience and the latter of whom plays a sarcastic history teacher in the running to be named Teacher of the Year, piece together as much of a homage to the toils of public education as a humorous story that highlights the imperfections of the main characters.
At moments, Chalk does feel a bit unspectacular. That situation is rectified, however, through the actors’ extremely natural improvisation and comedic moments such as a shorthaired, female gym instructor stating that “not all PE teachers are gay” and an unsure first-year educator winning a “Spelling Hornet” with slang words like sheisty and badunkadunk.
The film’s credit sequence would have worked much more had it started with Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago,” which ended up following an uninspired selection by Shane Nicholson titled “The Best Day of the Year.” Still, Chalk offers an entertaining glance at the real-life problems of teachers – even if a few scenes are unrealistic for the sake of humor – and implies great potential for the rest of the Morgan Spurlock line.
– Scott Morrow