This week in movies you missed: So, what's the "other F word"? Don't bother guessing the filthiest thing you can think of. For dads who are also punk rockers, it's "fatherhood."
What You Missed
"Maybe punk wasn't meant to ever grow up. But it did," says Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion and Epitaph Records in this documentary from Andrea Blaugrund Nevins. (It was exec-produced by Morgan [Super Size Me] Spurlock.) Through interviews, vignettes and concert footage, The Other F Word explores the question: What happens when the guys who spread the gospel of "Fuck authority!" become middle-aged authority figures?
Among the many interviewees are Joe Escalante of the Vandals, Fat Mike of NOFX, Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, Art Alexakis of Everclear, Duane Peters of U.S. Bombs, Ron Reyes of Black Flag, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo and Tony Hawk, who apparently didn't need a band to be punk rock.
But Jim Lindberg of Pennywise provides the central thread, as he struggles with the question of whether to quit the band so he can leave its grueling touring schedule (upwards of 200 annual days on the road) to spend more time with his daughters. We watch him on stage, exhorting an audience to insert "fuck" in their song requests as many times as possible; and then at home, reprimanding his daughter for calling her sister a "turdface."
Clearly, there are contradictions involved in being a punk rock dad, and complications when you don't blend in: One interviewee recalls showing up for a school meeting and abruptly realizing he was wearing a "Fuck the Police" T-shirt.
Why You Missed It
Like many documentaries not made by Michael Moore, The Other F Word had a tiny theatrical release: six theaters.
Should You Keep Missing It?
I didn't have the highest expectations for this one. Nathan Rabin of the A.V. Club called it "neither comic nor revelatory" and "adorable, though not adorable enough to compensate for the film’s damnable lack of focus."
He's right; Nevins hasn't given the material much structure, and Lindberg's story, while interesting, isn't the world's most compelling through-line. Still, there's only one documentary about punk rock dads out there, and this one certainly has its poignant and relatable moments.
My favorite sections involved the backstory of these rockers (do Devo, Everclear and Blink-182 really count as punk?), as they talk about their own messed-up families, their abusive or absent dads, the generally chaotic nature of childhood in the 1970s, and the salvation and release punk offered them. There's cool archival footage of Black Flag playing in the '70s in Hermosa Beach — and then we see Reyes today, with his teenagers, talking about how he chose to quit the increasingly violent scene 32 years ago.
One after another, these musicians talk about how they vowed to be more loving and involved than their own dads were. Then we see them interacting with their kids, putting that in practice. It's very sweet, though if there are counterexamples to the punk-rocker-awesome-dad trend, Nevins doesn't mention them.
Also interesting (for me as a non-musician) was getting some insight into the lives of middle-aged, not-mega-famous rockers who have to tour for a living — and we're talking the EconoLodge, crappy-fast-food kind of touring. Sure, Jim Lindberg is doing what he loves, playing in front of screaming fans, but how long will the sacrifices be worth it?
Verdict: There's some interesting (and, yes, adorable) stuff in The Other F Word.
But you know what would be a lot edgier than this documentary? One about punk rock moms. (Or working rockers who are moms, period.) We still kind of expect dads to go do their own thing, even if it involves a mosh pit, while moms do the actual caretaking. But moms are a marginal presence in this movie. (If you're interested in the true story of a creative mother who completely reneged on her responsibilities to her kids, watch The Arbor, also on DVD.)
Other New DVD Releases You May Have Missed
- Chalet Girl (A skater chick discovers snowboarding.)
- Dead Hooker in a Trunk (Twin sisters made this would-be Tarantino flick.)
- The Hammer (Deaf kid becomes a UFC champ.)
- Janie Jones (A middle-aged rocker reconnects with his teen daughter, who unfortunately is played by Abigail Breslin.)
- Outrage: Way of the Yakuza (Takeshi Kitano directed this Japanese gangster saga.)
- Texas Killing Fields (rural serial killer drama "inspired by true events")
- Thunder Soul (doc about reunion of a high school band that was a "world-class funk powerhouse" in the '70s)
- You and I (Mischa Barton stars in this Roland Joffe-directed teen lesbian drama.)