Movie: The Other F Word
My Rating: 5 stars
This is an amazing film. It does what all good documentaries should, and plays on all kinds of different, deep emotions in the viewer—heartbreak, human warmth, and the deep urge to jump into a punk rock mosh pit and crack some skulls. You know . . . all the basics. The documentary follows several of my favorite American punk bands from the 90s—Pennywise, Rancid, Bad Religion, Everclear, to name only a few—and explores what happens when the members grow up and start having kids. These used to be irresponsible teenagers, but now they’re in charge of taking care of a new generation of chubby, little, life forms. So, the story really plays on the human element of these guys’ lives. But, since this is a documentary about musicians, the film also features tons of my favorite punk songs that I grew up listening to. It’s pretty great, and the movie definitely stirred up a lot of nostalgia in me.
A lot of these guys got into the punk scene because they were deeply pained and disaffected youths. These were outsiders, and they acted that way—dressing to shock, getting into fights, heavy use of drugs and alcohol. Many came from broken homes, had terrible relationships with their parents. And, a few even ran away from home at a very young age. So it’s fascinating to see how these men react to having little kids of their own to care for. It probably comes as no surprise to learn that their relationships with their children is the polar opposite of their own upbringing. These guys know how it feels to be neglected and unwanted, and to have parents who really didn’t care where they were or what they were doing at any given time. So, they pour so much warmth and love into their own relationships with their children. It’ll makes your heart hurt. You’ll feel tears welling up—especially when listening to the interviews with Everclear’s Art Alexakis, and Pennywise’s Jim Lindberg.
But, this documentary isn’t just a tearjerker. It’s also got some pretty cute and funny moments. It’s hilarious watching these tatted up, spiky haired, facially pierced dudes rolling up to preschool to drop off their little toddlers. (Their very stylishly dressed toddlers). Other parents don’t quite know what to make of these juvenile-acting, swearing, but very cuddly and loving fathers. When the dads are actually carrying their little kids, the other parents seem to be a little wary but generally ok with the whole idea. But, as soon as their little tyke runs off to get on the swings or monkey bars, all of a sudden, uptight mothers start clutching their pearls and making calls to the neighborhood watch about a “suspicious man loitering on the playground.” It’s so ridiculous.
I loved this film and I think you will too—especially if you’re into this brand of California punk music. The filmmakers got so many awesome songs for the score! It’s essentially the soundtrack from my high school years, so I was in heaven. But, the film also has a fascinating human interest element, so I think you’ll like it even you aren’t necessarily a fan of this kind of music. Don’t let your musical taste keep you away from this documentary if you’re on the fence. It has so many other wonderful things to offer.