If you rebelled against your parents as a teen, and if you curse with every other breath as part of your day job, can you fairly chastise your kid for saying “turd?” That’s the question posed by The Other F Word, Andrea Blaugrund Nevins’ unfocused but entertaining documentary about aging punk rockers and their familial responsibilities.
We all know what the first “F word” is; the other one is “fatherhood.” Our access to the world of punk-rock parenting comes via Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg, who leads a look at how he and other musicians—like Black Flag’s Ron Reyes, The Adolescents’ Tony Adolescent, and, a bit incongruously, blink-182’s Mark Hoppus and Everclear’s Art Alexakis—have adjusted to fatherhood when many of them had negligent parents themselves. The context offers a minor miracle: Everclear’s “Father of Mine” will suddenly feel heartbreaking instead of whiny.
Lindberg is a rather funny guide and—like everyone interviewed here, too conveniently—a tender and attentive father. Still, unlike many of the defunct bands noted here, Pennywise still maintains a rigorous tour schedule, a source of concern for Lindberg that doesn’t leave his daughters especially pleased.
While plumbing pressing issues like how punk musicians put food on the table and the disconnect between their personal and professional personas (Hoppus remarks, “The cool thing about what I do for a living is that the expectation of me, as a father, is so fucking low”), Nevins throws in asides about the origins of punk and the problem of illegal downloading. Those topics are related, sure, but they still veer the film off its course. Also irritating is the director’s desperate-seeming attempt to make his doc as punk as possible, with flashing text and whiplash editing.
Once Nevins settles things down, however—and music becomes as much a part of the proceedings as the anecdotes—The Other F Word is a fun enough ride. It’s heartening to see that these musicians are largely able to hang on to their identities and still be nurturing parents who set the kind of rules they once broke. Many of the film’s talking heads come from broken homes, and they’re determined not to make the same devastating mistakes as their parents. When Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers cries, you know the film has struck a nerve.