Mockumentary shines light on high school teachers.
  • Review Date: December 3, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 84 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

High school students and faculty are mostly treated with respect; racially sensitive portrayal of multi-ethnic classrooms; uses humor to illustrate staff insecurity and weaknesses, but doesn't make fun of kids.


Some inconsequential tussling between high school students (teacher has to break up a fight).


Discussion of P.E. teacher's sexual orientation.


Infrequent, but words include "f--k," "bulls--t," and "ass."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One teacher is shown smoking; teachers drink in a bar after work on one occasion.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this indie film feels much more like a documentary than a typical high school comedy. Teens may find its sophisticated, character-driven humor funny -- and reflective of their actual school experience -- but younger kids probably won't be interested in the staff's trials and traumas. There's some discussion of sexual orientation, specifically with regard to P.E. teachers. The rare cursing (including "f--k") comes from the students, not the teachers. One teacher is shown smoking; others go out for drinks after work. It's worth noting that there's a lot of jerky handheld camera work, which could be difficult for those who are sensitive to the abrupt movements.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Fascinated by the statistic that 50% of new teachers leave the field within the first three years, teachers Mike Akel and co-writer Chris Maas created this \"mockumentary\" about why it happens. It's the first day of school at Harrison High. Teachers and other staffers are idealistic, purposeful, and enthusiastic (despite a few cases of nerves and some of outright terror). They put on bright, shiny faces to meet the kids. Then, for 84 minutes, these relatively virtuous humanitarians are forced to face enough school politics, personality conflicts, and student lethargy -- not to mention their own shortcomings -- to send them screaming into the faculty lounge.

Is it any good?


Chalk is earnest and well-intentioned. It has a relevant story, wonderful performances, and hilarious moments that everyone who's ever been a student or a teacher will identify with. Its relatively sophisticated, character-driven humor is derived from good intentions, inadequate preparation, and limitless egos. For viewers who like their high school comedies based on real people in authentic situations, Chalk is a welcome back-to-school treat.

That said, it's not entirely successful -- in their efforts to "keep it real," the filmmakers allow the movie's energy to sag and the pace to slow so much that it occasionally becomes lackluster and lifeless. Though filmed in the mockumentary style used so effectively in other films and even TV shows, Chalk plays much more like an actual documentary than a spoof. But one sequence -- described as a "spelling hornet" -- is as hilarious as any seen in the obvious send-ups.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Harrison High is similar to and different from their own experience. How realistic are the teachers and the students? How can you tell that this is a fake documentary, rather than a real one? What tools did the filmmakers use to make this feel like a true story? What do you think a real documentary about an average high school would be like? Does the movie successfully explain why so many teachers leave the classroom after such a short time? If you were Mr. Lowery, would you come back, and, if so, what would you do differently?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 6, 2007
DVD release date:September 25, 2007
Cast:Janelle Schremmer, Shannon Haragan, Troy Schremmer
Director:Mike Akel
Studio:Someday Soon Productions
Run time:84 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some language.

This review of Chalk was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Inspirational movie about a controversial teacher.
  • Intensely watchable movie based on a true story.
  • Indie inner-city drama with drug-addict teacher.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written bysweetvictoria9 July 6, 2012

OK but not the best

It's good but it isn't anything ground-breaking or record setting Too much swearing for your youngest kids♣
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bymanay_4511 October 26, 2010
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byHappilyEverAfter April 9, 2008


I liked this movie. It had the essence of The Office. A good comedy 'doc' for teachers and kids alike.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide