Stay After School

In high schools, vicious rumors are passed around quicker than intricately-folded notes – and that’s just inside the teachers’ lounge. The profession boasts a turnover rate rivaling the fast food industry, with 50% of educators quitting within their first three years of employment. The new film Chalk explores why teachers opt to get in, and out, of the field, and does it in a way that teeters between comedic and creepily voyeuristic. Similar to the rewarding discomfort felt from picking at something stuck between your molars or watching an episode of Arrested Development, this movie recreates the high school experience from the perspective of those running it. Cliques, fallen-friendships, and (possible) romance take center stage, while the students act as rowdy wallpaper.

Coach Webb is a micromanaging heterosexual woman; she holds tardy students and people who assume she’s gay in equal disdain. Her possible romantic interest, the bumbling new history teacher in school, has zero charisma; he took the job based on a personality quiz. The ringleader of the group, the gregarious Mr. Stroope (who is played by the film’s co-writer, producer and actual teacher Chris Mass) would have an easier time winning over his class’ affections if they would only stop using such “big words.” Based heavily on improv and a secret love for the inner sanctum of all teachers (the lounge), Chalk keeps you entertained and -- maybe -- even educates.
Fri., Aug. 31

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Jamie Laughlin