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The Motel


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Product Details

  • Actors: Sung Kang, Samantha Futerman, Jeffrey Chyau, Jade Wu
  • Directors: Michael Kang
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Palm Pictures / Umvd
  • DVD Release Date: January 30, 2007
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000JBXHE6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,575 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Motel" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by director Michael Kang and actors Sung Kang and Jeffrey Chyau
  • Behind the Scenes Featurette
  • Director's Picks
  • Trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

Amazon.com

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

Customer Reviews

Not a kids movie, though, like some may be lead to believe.
Tintenfische
Jeffrey Chyau is great in this film - he is the perfect embodiment of the character of Ernest.
JLPark
If you like simple, poignant portraits of American life this film is for you.
C.C.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joyce Schwarz on April 22, 2007
Format: DVD
This is a quirky, charming and irreverent indy film that stars Jeffrey Chyau as Ernest Chinn a 13 year old Chinese-American boy whose family runs a seedy motel where he works the night shift. It has the feel of one of my old old cult favorites TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME JUNIE MOON...with a bit of Weekend at Bernie's tossed in and a bit of American Graffiti on the dark side. Can you imagine coming of age where sex and drugs and the bizarre are the rule rather than the random occurance. Chyau is amazing, stoic yet poignant, awkward yet wise beyond his years. Befriended by a Korean fast Eddie type dude crashing at his parents motel, he gets the first feelings of having a big brother or father yet that whiff is complex and unstable like the rest of his life. Chin proves that puberty sucks at any age and place. This film won the humanitarian prize at Sundance and it is humanity at its best and its worse. Why is it so hard to grow up? Chyau is a stubby chubby kid and that adds to the challenge especially today when so many kids are overweight and often overlooked by busy parents. Samantha Futerman (Memoirs of a Geisha) brings a sweetness to 15 year old Christine who is Chinn's first girlfriend or at least he yearns for her to be. The DVD includes cast audition tapes, behind the scenes featurettes and deleted scenes. It's a rainy day kind of movie in mood.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Diesel Grass on April 20, 2012
Format: DVD
The main kid in this coming of age story is a superb "first-time" actor, it's a complicated story done very simply. It's like "Napoleon Dynamite" meets a Wes Anderson film. This is film lovers film, no doubt. I only accidentally purchased "Motel" at Amoeba Music because of its inexpensive price and its "Ghost World" style cover, being more like a Graphic Novel. I absolutely enjoyed its every-day life humor about family and growing up, tossed in with a not so usual setting of a Motel used for drunks and prostitutes. Combined with its indie soundtrack, any Todd Solondz lover would admire this movie's dark spirit and its uplifting metaphors. I suggest to watch it and then pass on the word. If you're a collector like me, just buy it and put it next to your Gregg Araki/David Lynch collection you keep separated on your DVD mantel!!!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C.C. on December 16, 2006
Format: DVD
This movie is about an Asian-American adolescent and his younger sibling living a frugal existence in a seedy motel run by his mother. His life isn't so pretty in the presence of lowlifes, soiled sheets, and puberty, but he gets by. The boy and a sketchy drunkard (one of the motel's occupants) form a tentative friendship. The drunk becomes a sort of mentor while he vicariously confronts some problems in his own life. It's gritty, true-to-life, and funny. If you like simple, poignant portraits of American life this film is for you.

Don't expect "Mr. Miyagi" to turn up in this movie. If you're looking for Zen Buddhism, Anime schoolgirls, or just another silly martial arts-exploitation film, just back slowly away...
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Format: DVD
"The Motel" is, at once, totally familiar and shockingly different. Its concept and themes relate to every coming-of-age film you've ever seen. This low budget feature doesn't wrestle with any significant issues, it just presents a brief moment in time where its young protagonist begins to move away from childhood and assert his individuality. The observations are small, the plot is slight, and most of the scenarios are commonplace. But that doesn't mean this film lacks charm and originality. For what is unique about "The Motel" is its environment. Set in a seedy and dilapidated motel run by a Chinese American family, the film explores a rare topic--not just coming-of age in terms of manhood, but asserting yourself in America against the traditions of your family culture.

The film follows Ernest Chin, an awkward 13 year old, who faces normal pubescent dilemmas. He is pestered by a local bully, is secretly in love with his best girlfriend, and is starting to explore his sexual nature. Through it all, he is expected to work cleaning rooms at the motel nonstop and his family doesn't support his academic and artistic interests--he has won an honorable mention in a writing contest (not even good enough to lose)! When a young Korean man (Sung Kang) checks into the motel, Ernest is fascinated. Hip and attractive, hard partying and successful with women--this childlike adult intrigues Ernest. But it soon becomes clear that Kang is, also, a bit of a wreck--and he forms a relationship with Ernest because he needs someone to connect with, someone who will look up to him. This relationship is, by far, the most dynamic element within "The Motel." In fact, the rest of the picture pales in comparison to the energetic interplay whenever Kang is on the screen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Kim on March 22, 2007
Format: DVD
I was pleasantly surprised by this movie! I know a guy who grew up as an asian american pre-teen running a motel with his family and he said it brought back lots of memories. There were some choice, funny moments in the movie and Michael Kang got some really great performances from the cast.

It got a couple Sundance awards and a prize at the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival. I believe it was also nominated for an IFC Spirit award for 'Best First Feature.'

[...]
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