- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 24 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: March 6, 2001
- Originally Released: 2000
- Label: Image Entertainment
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
- Aspect Ratio: Letterbox - 1.85
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen - 1.78
- Dolby Digital 5.1 - English
- DTS Surround 5.1 - English
- Additional Release Material:
- Music Video: "Punch You In The Eye," "Big Fat Furry Creature From Mars," "Maze," "Lawn Boy."
- Alternate Scenes: Deleted Scenes/Outtakes
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Entertainment Weekly - 09/22/2000
"...Unassuming....[Phish] without a trace of attitude..." -- Rating: B+
A low-key addition to the rockumentary genre, BITTERSWEET MOTEL is a behind-the-scenes look at life on the road with the mega-cult jam band Phish. Fans of Phish's anything-goes musical philosophy--one segment finds them bringing down the house with their take on a barbershop quartet--will surely be begging for more, while the uninitiated will get a glimpse not just of the curveballs they throw onstage, but also their goofball camaraderie offstage and the down-to-earth quality that obviously endears them to their ardent followers. As the primary inheritors to the Grateful Dead's fanatic posse of latter-day hippies, the band steers clear of that band's more mystical deep end in favor of a "we're all in it together" approach, and it's this lack of pretension that BITTERSWEET MOTEL most accurately reveals.
The film was commissioned by the band, and some of the funniest moments arise as they begin to question why they did it--apparently uninterested in trotting out the usual rock-star cliches, but hoping to show what makes them tick. Directed by Todd Phillips (who also directed HATED, a documentary of punk renegade GG Allin), BITTERSWEET MOTEL roams freely from onstage to backstage to rehearsals to interviews with fans, giving a three-dimensional look into a band that studiously avoids big-media hype.
Description by Image Entertainment:
Bittersweet Motel takes a look at the iconoclastic musicians of Phish, one of rock and roll's most successful touring bands, a group Rolling Stone magazine has called "the most important band of the '90s." This eighty-minute documentary tracks the band over the course of a year--on and off stages across the United States, Europe and at home in Vermont. The film wraps with an extensive section devoted to one of Phish's grand festivals, "The Great Went," where 70,000 fans descend on the tiny village of Limestone, Maine, for a spectacular multi-day musical event. Director Todd Phillips, best known for his groundbreaking films, Sundance Award winner "Frat House" and the blockbuster comedy "Road Trip," reveals the amazing phenomenon of the band--their music, loyal fans and spectacular live shows. Phillips presents a compelling film that every music fan will find fascinating.
Picking up where the Grateful Dead left off, Phish are the poster band of crunchy frat boys and loyal Deadheads. Known for their epic jam sessions and ceaseless touring, the Vermont-based band revel in a hippie mentality. BITTERSWEET MOTEL follows a year in the life of Phish, documenting them on stage and behind-the-scenes in Europe and America and ending with their spectacular multi-day concert ("The Great Went") in Limestone, Maine. Appropriately, Todd Phillips, who has shown a particular interest in fraternity culture in his films FRAT HOUSE and ROAD TRIP, directs.
- Theatrical release: AUGUST 25, 2000
- Performances were shot at an arena concert in Rochester and at the Great Went festival (in northern Maine) in 1997, New Year's Eve at Madison Square Garden, and during the band's 1998 European tour.
- Director Todd Phillips was hired despite admitting he knew little about the band, after the band had seen his first rock-doc, HATED.
- Phish gave the director complete creative control, allowing him close access to the band and freedom to edit as he chose.