“Shit” will have to wait. For now—for always—let us praise “fuck,” a word so pungent, so unequivocal, so adaptable and forcible that it’s high fucking time someone made a movie about it. And if Steve Anderson’s socio-documentary doesn’t qualify as the last word on the subject, it’s a pleasant enough tour d’horizon of the f-word; the film plumbs “fuck”’s murky origins, charting its polarizing effects across American society and anatomizing its dazzling variety of usages, from verb to noun to adjective to interjection to you name it. Some interesting facts to trot out at your next holiday party: 1) “Fuck,” despite the fondly held views of many a smartass, was never an acronym. (“Fornicate Under Command of the King” was invented by Playboy.) 2) The already-obscure Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back uses “fuck” more often than Brian De Palma’s Scarface. 3) Pat Boone, when he gets really mad, uses his own last name as an expletive. The milk-drinking, God-fearing singer is just one of the swearing heads on display here, with Alanis Morissette, porn-dog Ron Jeremy, and a rather glum Janeane Garofalo helping to fortify the left while the rightward flank is guarded by the likes of Miss Manners, Alan Keyes, and some gal from the Concerned Women for America whose face looks as if it’s being sucked through her skull. The latter group makes the expected arguments about the debasement of our culture, but Anderson uses jokey montage to undercut them, and really, any film that’s dedicated to the late Hunter S. Thompson (inaudible to the end) is not going to be on the side of the Bible thumpers. The only religious martyrs in Anderson’s universe are comedians, with Lenny Bruce and George Carlin the Christ figures sacrificed on hypocrisy’s altar. It’s fitting, then, that actor-comic Billy Connolly should so neatly encapsulate the film’s thesis (in a Scottish dialect that actually improves on the Anglo-Saxon): “There are no words that are worse. And there aren’t many—I can’t think of any that are better than ‘fuck.’ ‘Fuck’ stands alone.” —Louis Bayard

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