The Other F Word: Movie Review

I've had this ongoing idea about my generation in terms of parenting. This concept that no matter what you do for a living, how much money you make or your background, you're likely more involved in your children's upbringing than your parents were raising you.

It's the difference between a generation growing up with the highest divorce rate in history and not wanting to repeat history after they become parents.

The Other F Word is a documentary that focuses on punk rock musicians becoming fathers and the seeming dichotomy between both worlds. But it really can be applied to the entire age group represented in the film from ages 30 to 50.

Because of that fact alone I'm going to recommend the movie to any dad, and his family. But since my background as a writer started covering music, especially punk and hard rock, I can discuss this movie probably better than most. Watching the cascade of musicians interviewed I was constantly going "I've met him. And him. Toured with him. Had beer with that guy. Did laundry with him." Seriously.

Jim on stage

The movie follows punk rock singer Jim Lindberg (above and below), most known from his band Pennywise. My first interviews ever as a high school journalist was with Pennywise and their opening act The Offspring when they played in South Florida. Byron the drummer and Jim were very candid and understanding of some kid (I think I still had braces) interviewing them. As I would discover over the next ten years as I became more accomplished as an interviewer with big name publications, they remained some of the better subjects.

As a fan of music, but never talented enough to be in a band, I liked Jim because he dressed like me, jeans, t-shirt and baseball cap. No punk style there, just a guy who lived near the beach.

His story is the main one but we hear from many other punk rockers too. Most are a bit more…colorful.

Jim With Family

You see Lars Fredriksen of Rancid — one of the nicer guys you'll ever meet — tatted up and how his looks impact being a parent. He jokes that it's a good thing he lives in San Francisco where no one really notices.

Those little punk rock jokes pepper the film. But there's lots of serious matter in there. Lindberg illustrates that the touring life you have to endure today as a musician to make a good living doesn't mesh with being a present parent. His situation of being in a band with no other fathers that resent his desire to be home more, versus Rancid with two dads in the group isn't explored enough but makes a difference in the tale as it unfolds.

There are many more musicians and punk luminaries involved. Fat Mike of NOFX fame didn't impress me much in the film and I sure as heck make a better breakfast for my kids, but I'm not judging.

It was funny seeing Rick Thorne with his children. I met the BMXer on the Warped Tour and he was pretty hardcore, not really daddy material you'd think. But I guess even then he was domestic. We hung out on a rare day off doing laundry one time. Of course his batch was pretty easy. He only wears black.

Art Alexakis of Everclear seemed out of place in the movie since they were a big alt rock act, not really punk. But he had some clear daddy issues as a kid that are discussed. He's probably the only person I've interviewed multiple times who remembered not only who I was, but personal info, even if our interviews were years apart. The movie doesn't mention how both Alexakis and famed skateboarder Tony Hawk have been married multiple times with kids from different marriages. I'm not saying that's bad or good, but it is real life and I think would have added some more authenticity. Plus, I knew this while watching and it took away a bit from the movie.

You're also going to cry watching this movie. I should have mentioned that earlier.

Duane Peters of the U.S. Bombs will make you cry about 70 minutes in. I kept wondering why they were interviewing him so much as he seemed one of the less articulate subjects even if a colorful one. But his heart isn't questioned and it really shows that even the worst thing a father can endure happens to any group of dads no matter what they do for a living.

That brings me back to thinking that the film is more about dads today versus just this group of tattooed punk rock dads on the big screen.

Take dads who blog. The fact that men are spending time to not only actively parent, but then go online and share experiences with each other is as far away from our fathers as being a punk rocker raising kids. Like them, many of us had fathers who were either not present day-to-day due to divorce like my dad (not a bad father, but certainly there less than Lindberg who was on tour more than 200 days in one year) or they were dads who were of another mindset that only women raised the kids.

Most dads who blog though don't get on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans night after night like Lindberg.

That's why you can make a film around this group of dads versus dads who write for a living like myself, or work in cubicles or even some of our friends who are firemen and police officers. They're just as dedicated fathers as the punk rockers. But it has more impact when Tim McIlrath from Rise Against is making PB & J with his daughter.

Tim McIlrath

I come from a place where I know these guys. I've been behind the wall and know musicians are no different than anyone else no matter the notoriety or fame.

Even knowing that, the film has a lot to say about parenting today and does so with a great soundtrack.

The other F word by the way is Fatherhood.

You can catch the movie at the following screenings:

11/11: Austin, TX @ Violet Crown Cinema
11/11: Boston, MA @ Landmark Kendall Square
11/18: Berkeley, CA @ Landmark Shattuck
11/18: Phoenix, AZ @ The Royale
11/18: San Francisco, CA @ Landmark Lumiere
11/18: Seattle, WA @ Landmark Varsity
11/25: Minneapolis, MN @ Landmark (Location TBA)
11/25: San Diego, CA @ Landmark Ken
12/02: Philadelphia, PA @ Landmark Ritz @ The Bourse
12/02: Washington, DC @ Landmark E Street
12/09: Denver, CO @ Landmark Chez Artiste
12/09: Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Art

Disclaimer: I received a password to watch this movie online from the comfort of my iPad and laptop over two days. Great way to review a movie for a busy dad.