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200 Motels (1971)

"Touring makes you crazy," Frank Zappa says, explaining that the idea for this film came to him while the Mothers of Invention were touring. The story, interspersed with performances by the... See full summary »

Directors:

,

Writers:

(story and screenplay), (shooting script) | 2 more credits »
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Stars: Phyllis Smith Altenhaus, Dick Barber, BBC Symphony Orchestra
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Volman ...
Member of Mothers of Invention
Howard Kaylan ...
Member of Mothers of Invention
Ian Underwood ...
Member of Mothers of Invention
Aynsley Dunbar ...
Member of Mothers of Invention
...
Member of Mothers of Invention
...
Rance Muhammitz / Dave
...
The Hot Nun
...
...
Groupie #1 (as Janet Ferguson)
Martin Lickert ...
Jeff
Lucy Offerall ...
Groupie #2
Dick Barber ...
Bif Debris - The Vacuum Cleaner
Don Preston ...
Don
...
Interviewer (as Pamela Miller)
Ruth Underwood ...
Fake Drummer
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Storyline

"Touring makes you crazy," Frank Zappa says, explaining that the idea for this film came to him while the Mothers of Invention were touring. The story, interspersed with performances by the Mothers and the Royal Symphony Orchestra, is a tale of life on the road. The band members' main concerns are the search for groupies and the desire to get paid. Written by George S. Davis

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Fantasy | Music

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

|

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 November 1971 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Zappa's 200 Motels  »

Box Office

Budget:

$679,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While Frank Zappa appears extensively in this film, either conducting the orchestra or playing his guitar, he neither sings nor speaks. See more »

Quotes

Larry The Dwarf: [to the viewers] Hello there. When you go on tour with a musical group, it's possible any town could look seem this. Whether it's large or small, busy or nothing happening in it. The reason for this is quite simple. As a musician, if you consider the normal pattern of modern civilized life, it's on the outside of your own. He doesn't build things. He doesn't work regular hours like a decent, God-fearing citizen. And the life he leads in many ways seems useless and irrelevant to those who prefer ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits are super-imposed over a number of production-related documents, including sheet music, scripts, shooting directions, memos and expense reports. See more »

Connections

Featured in Laserdisc Memories: The Criterion Collection (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Frank Zappa was a genius, but its a shame his movies aren't on the level of his music
27 December 2006 | by (Worcester, MA) – See all my reviews

Frank Zappa was a genius, but its a shame his movies aren't on the level of his music. This is admittedly an innovative movie with some even groundbreaking techniques used. However, that doesn't mean its of much merit as entertainment. Its consistently strange throughout, which was the point. However, for every inspired moment of surrealism or absurdest humor, there's a sequence that just goes on for far too long. This is one unfortunately slowly paced film and not really the berserk cinematic head trip it should have been. I actually wish it had been taped on film instead of videotape. Fans will argue this adds a lot of the appeal, but it makes the whole affair look cheap and uneasy on the eyes. This isn't so much a coherent movie as an audio-visual assault. Unlike other head trips of the time such as "2001" or "El Topo", its difficult to become emerged in the film's surrealism, and it often comes across as being self-indulgent. Also, for a band known for its politics and intelligent world views, the film ultimately seems to have no point.

On the plus side, the music is great, especially if you're a Zappa fan. This is only recommended for die-hard fans of the Mothers however. I wish they could have made a concert film instead, as they were a truly amazing live band at the height of their powers. Additionally, the performances by Ringo Starr, Theodore Bikel, and Keith Moon are pretty funny and amusing to watch. And the film certainly achieves its goal, which is being weird. Unfortunately, its a wildly uneven work which becomes very tiresome towards the end. Worth watching for Zappa fans only. (5/10)


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