Film Review: ‘The Other F Word’
The idea of being a yuppie punk is a lot like being a punk rock dad, which is the subject of “The Other F Word,” a documentary from filmmaker Andrea Blaugrund Nevins, about the mindfuck that ensues when a punk rock lifestyle is interrupted by parenthood. A group of punk luminaries, including Jim Lindberg of Pennywise, Bret Gurewitz from Bad Religion and Fat Mike of NOFX, wax philosophic about the difficulties of balancing their day jobs with their night jobs. Rebellion and fatherhood don’t exactly go hand in tattooed hand after all, and neither does the life of the touring musician, as evidenced by Lindberg’s grueling schedule, whose journey is the centerpiece of the film, and who wrote a book, “Punk Rock Dad,” on which the film was inspired. You can read our interview with Lindberg about that book here.
Though the film fails to be all that illuminating about either punk rock or fatherhood, it is still an entertaining film with a good punk soundtrack. There are a handful of touching moments, like Lars from Rancid with his son at a San Francisco playground and the sight of Flea fighting back tears as he talks about his daughter, but the gist of the film is that most punks had shitty dads and that touring makes having a family really hard. Well, duh.
What the film doesn’t touch on are the wives and children of the punk rock dads that are profiled, which seems like a major oversight. We learn that the life of a touring punk is a struggle for the dads, but we never hear anything from the rest of the families. Though there are brief sound bites from a few of the kids, the moms are sidelined completely, despite the sacrifices they have to make so their husbands can earn their keep on the road. There are also no parenting professionals featured in the film, nobody who can offer any insight into what having a frequently absent father might mean for these kids. Or even better, why not talk to some grown-up kids who have gone through a similar experience and can speak to its ramifications? The movie shows us Ron Reyes from Black Flag’s kids, who are teenagers, but Reyes quit Black Flag when his oldest was an infant so the experience was never the same for them. But there are plenty of rock stars, and presumably punk stars, who have kids old enough to shed some light here. It’s hard to imagine Morgan Spurlock, one of the film’s producers, offering up as unbalanced a view in one of his films, which are equally entertaining but generally more substantive. Without this secondary material, the film feels thin and inconsequential. Though it is frequently funny, and at times touching, it ultimately feels more like an extended episode of MTV’s “True Life” than a fully-developed and well-rounded documentary.