Baby Snakes isn't the longest rock-star self-indulgence ever put on the screen ([Bob Dylan's] Renaldo and Clara still holds that title) nor is it the most pretentious (ditto). It's an ego trip, all right, but on a picayune, low-rent scale; its intermittent stabs at higher meaning come mostly in the form of gnomic inside jokes, meant for the exclusive consumption of Zappa's ever-shrinking cadre of hard-core devotees. It may be the first rock-star movie ever designed from the outset as a cult item….
Clearly, the movie is a labor of love—but for what? You'd expect a cranky pedagogue like Zappa to at least pretend to some sort of big thematic statement, and he does; but the substance of...
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