The Other F Word: Film Review
Andrea Blaugrund Nevins' documentary explores fatherhood through the lens of punk rockers.
Punk rock is dead, or about to die, and that's a good thing.
That's the unstated, surely unintended, message of Andrea Blaugrund Nevins' The Other F Word, whose interviews with a dozen or so middle-aged rockers finds a generation bent on being the caring dads they never had themselves. Forget the question of whether today's skate punk is just a shopping-mall bastardization of the real thing, and ask instead: Without absent or abusive fathers, how long can punk survive?
Though she interviews a couple of genre forebears -- like Ron Reyes, who briefly fronted the seminal Black Flag before starting a family and going to work in a print shop -- Nevins is most interested in members of still-active groups like Rise Against, NOFX, and Blink-182.
Her star is Jim Lindberg, the Pennywise frontman who wrote Punk Rock Dad and is easily the most engaging of the contemporary crew. Following him around at home and on the road, she finds a man who would have some qualms about touring at this age even if he weren't a parent: Isn't it bad enough to need to dye the gray in your goatee and cloak a receding hairline, without worrying about missing your kid's Father-Daughter Dance.
Many of Lindberg's peers are happier with their lot, gamely trying to balance taking their own kids to school with shouting rebellious lyrics at somebody else's teens. Viewers inclined to mock these mid-level stars will find plenty of ammunition, but none of these SUV-driving punks comes across nearly as badly as Fat Mike of NOFX -- who seems to think his skull-and-crossbones breakfast plates cancel out the banality of his McMansion's granite-topped kitchen. (Contrast Mike's faux-badboy abode with "The Church," a graffiti-covered Black Flag hovel seen here in clips from Penelope Spheeris' 1981 doc The Decline of Western Civilization.)
Strangely, Nevins doesn't pose a single question to the mothers in these families, and almost never addresses the kids directly. Instead of rounding out her domestic portraits, she devotes too much time to a history of SoCal punk and a portrait of financial turmoil in today's recording industry. This ground has been covered well elsewhere, but here it at least illustrates the dilemma facing Lindberg, who weighs his economic need to tour with the desire to watch his three daughters grow up.
Despite a few genuinely poignant moments (try not to be moved as Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea talks of righting his parents' wrongs) and a bit of humor, F Word feels shallow and a little stale. Letting subjects draw their sometimes delusional self-portraits without asking any probing questions, it simply adds to the pile of testimonials from men trying to raise children without admitting they're no longer kids themselves.
Opens: November 2 (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Production Companies: Rare Bird Films, Warrior Poets
Director-screenwriter: Andrea Blaugrund Nevins
Producer: Cristan Reilly
Executive producers: Morgan Spurlock, Jeremy Chilnick
Director of photography-editor: Geoffrey Franklin
No rating, 99 minutes