200 Motels (1971)

“Touring makes you crazy.”

200 Motels Poster

Frank Zappa channels the experiences of his band, The Mothers of Invention, as they tour the country, experiment with drugs, and do anything they can to get both laid and paid.


Response to Peary’s Review:
While this psychedelic film should be lauded for its no-holds-barred experimental approach, it’s a tedious chore to get through. In his review, Peary argues that 200 Motels “should have been erased” rather than transferred from its original video format to film, and laments the irreverent lyrics and annoying visuals. It’s undoubtedly included as a “must see” in his book due to its cult status; indeed, a number of contributors on IMDb seem to be hard-core fans.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • Ringo Starr as Zappa’s avatar
    200 Motels Frank Zappa

Must See?
No; despite its popularity as a cult film, this one is really only must-see viewing for true Zappa fans.


One Response to “200 Motels (1971)”

  1. Not a must. Whatever following it may have, it’s best forgotten altogether.

    And this comes from someone who was kind-of a Zappa fan. (He certainly composed better work than what’s here.)

    This is a film that is SO of its time that it screams ‘dated’; almost to-the-minute. There was a moment in time when (esp.) midnight films had to be this ‘out there’ to speak to those experimenting with…well, whatever combination of things we were experimenting with at the time.

    But looking at the film now is, more or less, like watching an exercise in desperation. It fails to accent what was most clever about Zappa’s work. What we get is what might have been best left in Zappa’s trunk. In perhaps what is the catchiest number overall, we get the following lyrics:

    “What will I say the next day to whatever (“whatever”?)
    I drag (“drag”?)
    to my hotel tonight…”

    This may, of course, be meant as commentary on the tour scene. Still, on its own, it’s pathetic.

    We also get a lot of penis-centric material. Maybe funny to a slight degree. But here it’s little more than tiresome.

    I actually like the concept of this film. But, the execution is (oddly, considering the emphasis on the penis) limp.

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