By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
Don’t worry, it’s The Other F Word.
Not that what we call “the F word” doesn’t turn up casually its share of times in this documentary, but the “F word” under the microscope here is fatherhood.
The Other F Word takes a look at the phenomenon of male punk rockers who have brought children into the world and been transformed or otherwise affected by the experience. Ferocious counterculturalism has given way to cozy domesticity. Overnight, it seems, they’ve gone from mocking and rebelling against mainstream family values to embracing and embodying them.
The film, which announces itself at the outset as a “coming-of-middle-age story,” intermixes interviews with tattooed, pierced, punk rock performers in Los Angeles from such groups as Pennywise, Black Flag, Rise Against, Everclear, TSOL, Blink-182, Total Chaos, Bad Religion, the Adolescents, Rancid, and Red Hot Chili Peppers with footage of proud papas feeding, playing with, chauffering, watching TV with, instructing, negotiating with, rerprimanding, disciplining, and cleaning their kids.
Those kids also get a bit of screen time, but the wives, girlfriends, and mothers are nowhere to be found.
What many of the punk rock dads have had in common is an unhappy childhood and an indifferent, withholding, or absentee father, which helps to explain their dedication to active and involved fatherhood.
But their anti-establishment stance has long since been established, so it’s interesting to hear these authority figures who have flaunted authority nearly their whole lives discuss the difficulty of being a role model for their kids with their rebellious background on record for anyone to read about.
Interesting for, say, the first half of the film.
With documentarian Morgan Spurlock as one of her executive producers, debuting writer-director Andrea Blaugrund Nevin manages to include an informal history of the punk rock movement (in LA, at least, as if punk never cropped up in any other major cities) along the way, but her bread and butter here, the sometimes emotional discussions by the interviewees about playing dad to their kids, runs out of steam.
Consequently, the film feels long — even though it runs only 100 minutes — and becomes counterproductively repetitive for all but punk fans who grew up on the genre and just can’t get enough footage of their heroes, because there just isn’t enough nuanced material to hold up over the course of a feature film.
Not that there aren’t occasional intriguing insights and confessions offered by interviewees like Jim Lindberg of Pennywise, whose book, Punk Rock Dad, inspired the film and who probably gets the most screen time, but this would have worked far better as a TV feature of a half-hour or one-hour duration.
So we’ll raise 2 stars out of 4. Released without a rating, and of much more interest to punk fans than to the wider audience, The Other F Word is fair: it doesn’t fail, but it falters.