The Other F Word: Solid Family Documentary
The Other F Word is an insightful, funny, and often ironic tale of the traditional role of fatherhood seen through the eyes of the modern day icons of anti-authority – punk rock musicians. This very candid look into the every day lives of the punk scene’s living legends and their relationships with their offspring offers more than just a humorous take on the contradictions of play dates and mosh-pits. It gets to the very idea of fatherhood itself as the subjects of the film hold nothing back, revealing some complicated and emotional truths about their own fathers and what it means for the men of Generation X to be fathers themselves, punk or otherwise.
One of the things I like most about this film is that its style does not overshadow the subject. Told in a very traditional documentary manner, The Other F Word does not try to reinvent the genre, but holds fast to the standard tools of the documentary. Vintage footage is used to great effect to indoctrinate the unfamiliar, talking head interviews provide a previously inaccessible intimacy to the punk heroes of yesterday and today, and on-the-road, day-in-the-life concert shots of Jim Lindberg (the lead singer of Pennywise whose most recognized song is “Fuck Authority”) epitomizes the contradicting demands of family life and a world tour.
Most importantly, the filmmakers didn’t just scratch the surface, but reached out to some of the most recognized leading men of punk rock, including Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath, Art Alexakis (Everclear), Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo), Tony Adolescent (The Adolescents), Fat Mike (NOFX), Lars Frederiksen (Rancid), skater Tony Hawk, and many others. The stories these men tell of heartbreak and sacrifice, obstacles and challenges, and of just plain old everyday life, are as touching and loving as any I’ve heard from the most endearing and scripted Hollywood tale. One particularly poignant aspect running throughout the film is how much these men strive to be better fathers than their own fathers were to them. This is a rather telling characteristic of those who have lashed out against authority and now find themselves to be the authority. It shows they were more than just angry young men, they wanted more, and now they are in a position to fulfill that need in their own kids.
To that end, these guys are attempting to be the hands-on fathers their dads either couldn’t, or wouldn’t be. Which is even more of a challenge today than it was for their dads considering the demanding world of music. Traditionally, fathers are gone all day making a living. But musicians obviously work differently, and they work a lot differently today than they once did. The Other F Word does a good job of laying down the facts that music just doesn’t pay like it use to through product sales. The money is in the concert tour. So, for musicians, making a living means being on the road. The irony is these guys who want so much to be there for their kids have to be away from home, not just from nine to five, but for months in order to provide for their families. And that’s where the subjects themselves come to a better understanding of their own fathers, if not an all out forgiveness.
Easily my favorite doc of the year, and likely one of my top ten favorites overall, The Other F Word managed to effect me in a way few other films ever have regardless of the genre. Not only did I leave the theatre with an infused appreciation for the modern day dad, but I also emerged from the experience with a broader tolerance for those with lifestyles different from my own. One particular scene of a hard-core looking guy taking his adorable little tot to the park reminded me of the tough looking men I know. Most are regular guys, but because of their appearance, I wouldn’t want to approach them if I didn’t already know them. But given the chance, tough guys are just as capable as anyone of the unconditional love required of good parenting.
Trust me, whether you’re a father, have a father, or know a father you’re going to enjoy this film, and more than likely walk away with a greater affection for all men who live up to that title. Opening weekend of The Other F Word starts Friday, November 4th at the Landmark Nuart, 11272 Santa Monica Boulevard, in Santa Monica right at the edge of the 405 Freeway. Q&A’s are scheduled during the weekend, including Saturday night with Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Jim Lindbergh of The Black Pacific (formerly of Pennywise) and Art Alexakis of Everclear. With this kind of a lineup don’t be surprised if there are some unscheduled guests that pop up as well.