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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/02/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

Entertaining documentary with an admirable array of talking heads, though it doesn't dig nearly as deep as you'd expect and contains some baffling omissions.

What's it all about?
Directed by Steve Anderson, Fuck is a documentary that takes a look at the history, censorship, use and abuse of the word fuck. Anderson has assembled an admirable array of talking heads that includes Billy Connolly, Kevin Smith, Hunter S. Thompson, Janeane Garofalo, Ice-T, porn stars Ron Jeremy and Tera Patrick, NYPD creator Steven Bochco, Deadwood creator David Milch, Pat Boone, Bill Maher and Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee.

The film is presented entirely through talking heads and the use of captions, illustrated by a wealth of clips from films, TV shows and news reports, plus songs and some animated inserts by Bill Plympton.

The Good
Anderson has gone out of his way to present both sides, so we hear from several conservative voices, rather than a token one or two. Similarly, some of the contributors are often very funny (Ice-T, Kevin Smith) and if the film does nothing else, it at least attempts to dispel the surprisingly prevalent myth that the word fuck originated as an acronym meaning Fornicate Under Consent of the King.

The Bad
That said, the film is not without problems – for example, despite tracing the word in print back to the 1400s, the film is forced to confess early on that no one actually knows where the word originated. Similarly, some of the clips (particularly those of George Carlin or Lenny Bruce) are actually much more informative and entertaining than some of the talking heads.

In addition, the film contains some baffling omissions and is often frustratingly shallow – for example, it informs us that Robert Altman's M*A*S*H (1970) was the first film to use the word fuck but it doesn't tell us anything about the impact and reaction to that fact at the time.

Worth seeing?
Fuck is both watchable and entertaining, though you can't help wishing for a little more depth and it's not as informative as it should have been.

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Content updated: 17/01/2018 14:22

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