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STUDIO: Oscilloscope Laboratories
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes
• Audio Commentary
• Deleted Scenes/Outtakes
• Music Videos
Punk rockers raising kids. Amazingly, disaster does not ensue.
Jim Lindberg, Mark Hoppus, Art Alexakis
You will wish Flea was your dad.
If punk music’s origin and core concept can be boiled down to one word, it’s rebellion. Whether against the government, school, or society in general, punk music was born from the anger of young people – mostly white, adolescent males – who didn’t want to take oppression lying down. One of the biggest targets of punk musicians’ ire was parents, and The Other F Word tackles a bit of a conundrum: what happens when punks become parents themselves?
Though it’s clear that director Andrea Blaugrund Nevins has an explicit love for punk music and the surrounding culture, the film thankfully does not have an agenda and approaches the topic more from an anthropological standpoint. If anything, her goal is to dispel the stereotypes that most people will undoubtedly have upon seeing a guy with spiky hair and tattoos. It would be easy to picture one of these guys accidentally lighting a kid on fire, but as we find out that’s clearly not the case. If any of these guys had been wearing business suits we wouldn’t bat an eyelash; once you get past Jack Grisham (T.S.O.L.) going to a meeting with his daughter’s principle wearing a shirt that says “Fuck The Police” you realize they’re just like us.
The film primarily focuses on Pennywise singer Jim Lindberg, who has been friends with Nevins since high school. In following Lindbergh we not only see his parenting skills, but also how his job as a punk singer affects his family life, and vice versa. Many of the musicians interviewed say they feared that having children would change them, though their fears of possibly becoming religious conservative capitalists proved to be unfounded. If anything, parenthood has made them wiser and more mellow, a change that most – if not all – of them have welcomed with open arms. However, NOFX’s Fat Mike still has no problem singing “Fuck the Kids” (after professing to not being able to perform live sober) and the movie shrewdly opens and closes with the Against Me! song “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”, which many (wrongly) criticized as singer Tom Gabel renouncing his punk past.
The career vs. family segment shows that, no surprise, it’s not easy being both a musician and father (this can probably be said of musicians from any genre). Lindberg himself spends almost a year away from his family, and leaving the tour early to be with his children triggers a conflict within the band that would eventually lead to his quitting. The collapse of the music industry only helps to force many of the musicians interviewed into a more present role as a parent, as the profitability, and therefore benefit, of being a musician becomes ever more fleeting.
The musicians’ own upbringing proves to be the most illuminating segment of the film. Considering the music they make it’s no surprise that many of the interviewees had traumatic upbringings, with parents who were either abusive, addicted, or simply absent. With such angry music you’d think they themselves would become angry parents, but that couldn’t be further from the truth as they go out of their way to make sure they don’t end up like their own parents. BMX biker Rick Thorne is hesitant to so much as even pinch his daughter when she needs to be reprimanded, and Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) turns every parent’s favorite phrase “I gave you life!” into “She gave me life” when describing his daughter in one of the film’s sweetest segments. Nevins’s biggest accomplishment is that at no point do you ever doubt any of the musicians’ love for their children. In what is by far the film’s most harrowing sequence, Tony Adolescent (The Adolescents) and Duane Peters (U.S. Bombs) both recall having to live through every parent’s worst nightmare, and you would have to not have a soul to not get teary-eyed. By the end of the film you will realize that not only are a lot of punk musicians better parents than you ever could’ve imagined but are even better than most ‘normal’ parents.
My only complaint – though it is a quite large one – with the film is that we don’t get a female perspective. All the musicians interviewed are men, and I couldn’t help but feel that the film missed a huge opportunity by not including female musicians. Likewise, very few of the musicians’ wives or children, most of whom by some weird coincidence are also female, get much screen time. The fact that the director is a woman only seems to confuse the matter. Also, focusing on Lindberg diverts attention from the other musicians, many of whom have just as much or even more interesting things to say. These issues might be justified with the level of access (or lack thereof) Nevins had, but considering the success of the film I didn’t find them too distracting. Aside from the dramatic scenes mentioned above I had a near-constant smile on my face throughout the entire duration. You don’t have to be a punk or a parent to get something out of this film. It’s very rare that a movie can be both informative and entertaining for almost everyone who watches it, and I’m both surprised and pleased to proclaim The Other F Word as one of them.
As excellent as the movie is, the special features do something that the main feature does not: allow the musicians to talk to each other about being fathers. This leads to conversations not brought up in the feature and makes the extras just as essential. Hearing Lindberg and Art Alexakis (Everclear) trade tips and war stories on the commentary (also featuring Nevins and producer Cristan Crocker-Reilly) is both hilarious and informative, and seeing Lindberg, Alexakis, Adolescent, and Ron Reyes (Black Flag) answer questions at an SXSW post-screening Q&A with their daughters present is as adorable as it is embarrassing.
Also included are outtakes with Dr. Drew Pinsky sharing a bizarre story about Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh recalling how Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten almost became a member of the band, and Lindberg showing what happens when you don’t realize the mic is on. Extended versions of Alexakis’s performance of “Father of Mine” (a highlight of the movie) and Tim McIlrath’s (Rise Against) “Swing Life Away”, as well as two videos from Lindberg’s new band The Black Pacific, round out the extras.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars