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Puberty sucks, and nobody knows it better than 13-year-old Ernest Chin (Jeffrey Chyau). As he watches guests come and go, Ernest finds himself forever stuck at his family's hourly-rate motel, where he divides his time between taking orders from his overbearing mom, cleaning up after whatever miscreants the motel may attract and longing for the girl of his dreams, 15-year-old Christine (Samantha Futerman, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA). When charismatic Sam Kim (Sung Kang, PEARL HARBOR, BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT) checks into the motel, fatherless Ernest is taken under his wing and hustled toward manhood, for better or worse. THE MOTEL is an honest portrait of adolescence as heartfelt and authentic as it is hilarious.
Winner of the Humanitas Prize at Sundance 2005, The Motel is a charming feature debut by writer/director Michael Kang. Between Kang and producer Gina Kwon (Me and You and Everyone We Know), this chronicle of adolescent sexual exploration shares the clean, contemporary look of Miranda July's film, and also Dayton/Faris's recent release, Little Miss Sunshine. Interestingly, all three examinations of humanity's awkwardness star nerdy, charismatic children. Punctuated by spare dialogue, The Motel follows Ernest (Jeffrey Chyau), a thirteen year-old Chinese American boy whose family runs a roach motel primarily visited by prostitutes and druggies. Ernest's mother and grandfather strictly enforce their depressing traditional family work ethic, squashing Ernest's hopes of winning a writing contest that he has secretly entered, for example. As Ernest cleans scummy rooms, he discovers porno magazines and other evidence of raunchy sexual escapades. Intrigued but shy about his sexual prospects, Ernest casually enlists his semi-girlfriend, Christine (Samantha Futerman) to explore magazine images with him. Funny, touching scenes of Ernest with his little sister's stuffed toy bunny, to name one, remind the viewer of that curious age when sex is mysterious but tangible. When renegade adult, Sam Kim (Sung Kang), moves into the motel to drink and cavort with women, Ernest befriends him and takes tips. Eventually Ernest realizes that he's a gentleman as he begins to understand the subtleties of love. In this film marked by sincerity, one can't help but think of the protagonist's name metaphorically. --Trinie Dalton
A lot of unnecessary nudity and other content in this film!Published 10 months ago by Snazzy dresser!
My favorite movie of all time. I would say it's somewhat similar to Napoleon Dynamite, but heart touching.Published 11 months ago by Alan
This movie is supposedly based on a great book called Waylaid but the only thing they have in common is that the main character is Asian and lives at his parents' motel. Read morePublished 12 months ago by john in RI
It's just above average. Mainly because it's a low budget movie and at least they had good story line and actors playing their parts. Read morePublished on May 13, 2012 by S. Der
Ive watched it about 20 times now. pretty good movie. its worth seeing. Not a kids movie, though, like some may be lead to believe. Read morePublished on March 7, 2012 by Tintenfische
Overall, an interesting idea for a movie, following the life of a Chinese teenage boy whose family owns a local Motel that he works at after school. Read morePublished on March 3, 2012 by Rantings Of a Girl
If your desire in watching The Motel is to stare in at someone else's life, or re-affirm your faith in the ultimate goodness of life, then choose another film. Read morePublished on March 7, 2010 by Saroyan
Jeffrey Chyau is great in this film - he is the perfect embodiment of the character of Ernest. This film explores the angst and trials of being a teenager with empathy and... Read morePublished on December 9, 2009 by JLPark
The Motel is like a successful blind date: the conversation is not terribly interesting or engaging, but the banter is pleasant and non-offensive; the food isn't gourmet or great... Read morePublished on September 13, 2008 by Judith T. Krauthamer