In the late 70's and early 80's, a subset of a generation rose their middle fingers to the establishment via punk rock and all its outlandish accoutrements. Thirty someodd years later many of those bands are still in existence but their members are questioning their youthful ideals, especially as regards one huge area many of them never considered - Fatherhood - in writer/director Andrea Blaugrund's "The Other F Word."
This light-hearted documentary is certainly entertaining, especially for those who grew up with punk rock, but as a documentary it has many faults. The opinions expressed by most of the interview subjects could often be the opinions of anyone of a certain age reconsidering their views on life not just those of punk rockers, the film meanders way too much and Blaugrund really stretches to make her 'F word' concept as a chaptering device. Still, skate-punk band Pennywise lead singer Jim Lindberg, the film's focus (his book 'Punk Rock Dad' inspired the film), is an endearing character with an interesting story arc and the visual contrasts, like Rancid's Lars Frederickson, he of the tattooed face and leopard-spotted head, pushing a child on a swing, are chuckle inducing.
We find these men, including Everclear's Art Alexakis, Black Flag's Ron Reyes, Fear and Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea and Devo's (huh?) Mark Mothersbaugh, reflecting on such topics as 'Putting Food on the table' and 'Focusing on the job at hand.' Lindberg is away from home more than at it, still touring around the world to support three daughters increasingly minding his absences and Blaugrund spends perhaps more time than necessary following him, as she does establishing the requisite punk rock history. More fun are the anecdotes, such as one dad's failure to even notice he'd gone to his daughter's principal's office wearing an 'F the police' t-shirt or Flea's daughter's entire ballet class being frightened by the scary guy out in the hall (guess who). Certainly less funny is hearing the story of many of these guys' relationships with their own fathers, broken homes leading to young runaways ripe for punk who are now making every effort to be good parents.
Too many observations, though, such as comments on Hot Topic as 'the corporatization of punk' or wondering how one has become an authoritarian could apply to any rock 'n roller or hippie for that matter. The film could have used a bigger net for its subject, too, concentrating as it does only on L.A.'s scene. At best, "The Other F Word" plays like an unfocused subset of Michael Apted's "Up" series with a few laughs and a solid POV subject. Perhaps its most potent conclusion is Lindberg's offering that perhaps the best way to change the world is to raise its children better.
Robin gives "The Other F Word" a B-.
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