Reviewed by Ian Forbes, Sobering Conclusion
Being young is all about fighting against the establishment and living life with the shortsightedness only youth can provide. It also means finding a way to cope with increasingly difficult emotions and realities. One movement born from that social cauldron was Punk Rock. Bands like The Ramones and The Sex Pistols ignited a generation. The music was loud, the lyrics were forceful, and the culture it created gave kids who felt like they were on the fringe somewhere to belong.
1981’s The Decline of Western Civilization captured this so well at the time, and to this day remains a completely relevant documentary of the highest order. To no great surprise, it’s even featured a few times in a look at what’s happened to Punk Rock in the 30 years since, The Other F Word.
At one point in time, everyone in that scene was living fast and not worrying about what would happen the next day, let alone the next week, month, or year. However, life has a way of throwing a wrench into one’s expectations. And although many of the seminal figures of the scene are still touring and stirring up the youth, they’ve also got kids of their own to contend with when not on stage.
Family/Fatherhood is the F word alluded to in the title and the documentary takes a look at the logistics of balancing home with the road, as well as interviews many prominent members of the music scene as to what becoming fathers has meant to them. The main focus is on former Pennywise lead singer, Jim Lindberg. Spending 200+ days touring doesn’t leave a lot of time to see his daughters grow up; with the wear and tear of that separation beginning to take its toll.
Director Andrea Blaugrund Nevins does a nice job of layering Lindberg’s tale with interviews of other musicians, giving the project the feel of covering the major elements of the scene. Perhaps most poignant are the stories of Everclear’s Art Alexakis and Flea (although best known as the bassist for The Red Hot Chili Peppers, he was also in the punk band Fear). Each come from different angles but may have some of the more sensitive audience members looking to dab their eyes with a tissue. Scattered about are the stories of many other Punk musicians and even Tony Hawk (the skateboarding subculture grew hand-in-hand with the music).
What makes the documentary work so well is the obvious journey these men have undertaken to be where they are now. Most got into the scene as a result of a fractured home life, often with Dad being the most the blame. To see them now trying to be the fathers they wish they had as children themselves is truly moving and impressive.
Nevins’ approach is very hands-off, allowing the participants’ words and actions to speak for themselves without a lot of leading or overt editing to present some kind of message. It’s exactly what’s needed and The Other F Word provides a heartfelt, often humorous, look into what happens when you grow up fighting The Man – only to become The Man yourself. It’s easily one of the most entertaining documentaries of 2011 and well worth finding in the theater if possible, or renting at home once it hits that market.
RATED: Not Rated by the MPAA (contains strong language).