If you've ever watched James Lipton interview celebrities on the
television program INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO, you may recall that
one of the many questions he asks at the end of each session is
"What is your favorite curse word?" In my unscientific study, I would
have to say that the majority of people prefer the notorious F-bomb
or some version of it. Well, here's a film for them and anyone else
who enjoys using the word.
Director Steve Anderson has assembled a film that incorporates
a variety of resources. There are film clips from Hollywood releases,
man-in-the-street interviews conducted mostly in the cleaned up,
Disneyfied Times Square, and a host of talking heads. The latter includes
those in favor of the word like journalists Ben Bradlee, Sam Donaldson
and the late Hunter S. Thompson (who sat for the interview just weeks
before taking his own life), comedians Billy Connolly, Bill Maher, and
Drew Carey, porn stars Ron Jeremy and Tera Patrick, singer Alanis
Morrissette, director Kevin Smith and rapper Ice-T. In the interest of
equal time, Anderson also includes a few people who prefer not to use
or hear the word such as singer Pat Boone (who has turned his own last
name into an expletive!), politician Alan Keyes, conservative former film
critic Michael Medved, Morality in Media spokesman Robert Peters, and
talk-show host Dennis Prager. And none other than Judith Martin a.k.a.
Miss Manners weighs in as well.
Anderson also includes a couple of linguistic scholars who mostly
debunk the common myth that the word is an acronym (sorry, it does
not stand for "fornicate under the consent of the king" or "for unlawful
common knowledge"). The word's origin has been lost in the mists of
history (although it probably is of Germanic origin). Another
misconception that the film addresses is that the word does not appear
anywhere in the works of Shakespeare, but poet Robert Burns did use
More recently, two of the biggest proponents of the word were
nightclub comedians: Lenny Bruce, who was often jailed on obscenity
charges because of his use of this all-purpose word, and George Carlin
whose routine about the seven words you cannot say on the air
actually got him and a New York City radio station in trouble when they
played the album containing that routine. (As the film points out, there
was only one person who complained, but the government sprang into
The film is structured around topics which are introduced via
illustrations by animator Bill Plympton. As a film, F*CK has a sort
of freewheeling, loose quality to it. In some ways it recalls last year's
THE ARISTOCRATS (which also involved so-called "filth").
I cannot say that this is a great movie. It does raise some issues
that are (and probably for the foreseeable future will be) at the center
of the so-called "Culture Wars." But it should make one stop and think:
just where do we draw the line?
Rating: B -
MPAA Rating: NONE
Running time: 93 mins.
Viewed at the Broadway Screening Room
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.