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RUNNING TIME: 90 Minutes
- Deleted/Extended Scenes
That most taboo of words discussed in documentary form by pundits, politicos, and uptight citizens.
Hunter S. Thompson. Bill Maher. Drew Carey. Ice-T. Tera Patrick. Ron Jeremy. Pat Boone.
Steve Anderson’s film comes out in an age where people are really getting to use the documentary as a tool more than ever before. I could say that Fahrenheit 9/11 is the reason and perhaps its gross led the way to more flexibility but I think it goes deeper than that, with the really transcendent work being done by films like Capturing the Friedmans and perhaps even The Aristocrats when it comes to using the form as a ballistic weapon. This movie attempts to ride along similar waves as films like Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermaschocist and Nick Broomfield’s work, taking the taboo and presenting it in a way that allows for the masses to ingest it. It’s an ingenius way of getting away with showing some truly controversial stuff, but there has to be weight behind the message or it’s hollow.
Joey really went out on a limb there.
from the same studio [Thinkfilm] as the Penn Gilette/Paul Provenza film
and seems almost like a sibling to it, riding a wave of the forbidden
into the public eye. Sadly, this one never really rises out from its
great concept into being something really all that worthwhile.
The film boasts boasts blurbs telling how silly and funny it is, but
aside from Bill Plympton’s sometimes terrific animated cut scenes and
old clips of George Carlin and Lenny Bruce bits it really isn’t. It’s
also not all that sensational, since the word "fuck" is a lot more
commonplace these days and it’s harder to shock in a day and age where
an innocuous Google search can yield hentai, pictures of abortions, and
Brian Peppers’ head on the Energizer Bunny. It seems that the
filmmakers find the concept cutting edge, though they’re willing to
show concert footage of people getting their screw on, seemingly
knowing that the power of the word maybe doesn’t have the punch it did
How can she be so conservative when she’s such a hot gash?
The diversity of the talking heads often dictates how valuable a film like this is, because there’s only so much footage you can use and/or license before it becomes just a bunch of regurgitation without context. Imagine how bland The Aristocrats could have been without Bob Saget, Doug Stanhope, or that fucking mime. The group here isn’t nearly as strong and it almost feels like they didn’t have a lot of time with the involved parties because ideas aren’t really all that developed past the "I think this is the best word in the world" vibe from the majority of included parties (the left wingers) and the "This word leads to the decline of civilization" vibe from the minority (the right wingers). It feels rather empty, and though devoting a film to a simple word lends itself to simplicity, I can think of a few words that could lead down more tumultuous and diverse paths and allow for a well-rounded narrative. Fuck seems content to paint in broad strokes but never allows stuff to get really interesting.
Also, while the presence of the now self-defeated Hunter S. Thompson in the mix adds coolness and credibility, folks like Bill Maher and Kevin Smith, oftentimes best known for how they handle an argument disappoint. Ron Jeremy’s there because he’s Ron Jeremy and the balance between people on either side of the issue isn’t equal enough to really give the film more than a condescending and sarcastic vibe towards the conservative (read: wrong) opinion.
It’s still got its moments and Plympton’s little chapter breaks are quite fun, but I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the thing as a whole.
If nothing else, the film is fun for its sharing of some audio and video clips of past and present presidents and their usage of the word and its many incarnations. Also, it’s funny as shit to see the old and new Scarface movies played alongside each other, which shows just how popular "fuck" has become.
It’s a good title to have on your shelf for obvious reasons, but don’t expect a top-shelf documentary. Maybe next time, fuckers.
There’s a commentary track by the director, which is fun in its own right but I think he might overestimate the appeal and impact of the film beyond the superficial coolness of having the title it does. I think people are inclined to get on board this due to the title as they might with a book with a really aggro title only to have it define from their shelf rather than actually reading the thing. Of course, that’s more about the fil’s audience than the film or filmmaker, just a chance to take a jab at people I hate.
Anderson’s got all the enthusiasm and comprehensive knowledge a filmmaker should have and seems to relish having the commentary track to state his case. If I were more into the final product I probably would have enjoyed it more.
Otherwise, there’s a few neat little things, like extended stuff with Thompson and a nice little thing centered around Plympton and his interesting hair discussing how his friends reacted to his stuff for the film. It’s not loaded but it’s got a lot to offer.
The presence of trailers for films that really kind of do [Shortbus, The Aristocrats] what this film set out to do a little better makes this one pale a little in comparison, but whatever…
6.5 out of 10