Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 33 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Steve Anderson
Starring: Steven Bochco, Pat Boone, Drew Carrey, Billy Connolly, Ron Jeremy, Bill Maher, Kevin Smith, Hunter S. Thompson & Alanis Morissette
A documentary centering around the most taboo word in the English language sounds interesting to say the least. There’s always a liberating power and automatic judgment that occurs when someone drops an F-bomb in public. I tend to not swear in my movie reviews, but I do cuss (F-bomb included) quite a lot in my day-to-day life. Swear words don’t bother me, because I just see them as words. Curse words are “sentence enhancers” as Patrick states in a SPONGEBOB episode and they’ve become so routine to myself (and most of the people I associate with) that I don’t put a ton of value into them. However, there are groups who are devastated when someone uses profanity around them, especially the F-word. This evolution of the F-bomb, its usage and cultural impact surrounding it are intensely analyzed in F**K. Some might argue these are a bit too analyzed to the point of becoming sort of repetitive by the time that the end credits roll.
F**K examines the supposed origins of the F-word, including various theories about it originally standing for Fornication Under Consent of the King or For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. However, a piece involving the origins of what giving someone the middle finger actually signifies cracked me up. I now have a newfound respect for the bird. Hilarious bits include Billy Connolly addressing how the word is universal and Hunter S. Thompson being…well, Hunter S. Thompson. Also interesting are the first documented uses of the word in different mediums shown throughout (including a satirical poem from 1475, its overuse in HBO’s DEADWOOD, movies like MASH and SCARFACE, the controversial CATCHER IN THE RYE, and various stand-up comedians).
There are also interesting debates included between those using the F-bomb on a regular basis and those deeply offended by it (a.k.a. the profaners and the prudes). Arguments of overstepping boundaries and tasteful limits in Freedom of Speech (e.g. a broken law at a national park) are examined as well. The main issue with F**K is that it seems unfocused. There’s this great idea about the history and evolution of a taboo swear word, but the movie tries to do everything with it and doesn’t quite know what to focus on more. There’s also a feeling by the end that the concept has almost worn out its welcome (with the F-bomb being dropped 857 times in the space of just over 90 minutes). Though it becomes repetitive about halfway through, this documentary is still entertaining for those who don’t mind profanity or use it on a daily basis.