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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
- Commentary by director Michael Kang and actors Sung Kang and Jeffrey Chyau
- Behind the Scenes Featurette
- Director's Picks
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The only weakness I think is the end. It needs one more scene I think besides the one with the mom. It's rather sour note to end on what should be a movie about a boy spreading his wings. His submitting completely back to the mom at the end didn't quite work for me but it was in character I suppose.
The film starts out on a light note with 13 year old Ernest eating an egg roll sitting on a dumpster outside a Chinese restaurant. He is smitten by a 15 year old girl working at the restaurant with whom he shares life and growing up experiences. Ernest is in love, while the girl (Christine) doesn't hold the same feelings. (Such is life.)
There are some funny scenes and others that make you feel awkward. (Spoiler) The best acting scene was at the very end when he comes face to face with his mother. There is no conversation, just a look of understanding on both their faces. This would have been a great turning point for the film, but alas it ends here. Made me hungry for more.
Has anyone else ever eaten 3 day old Popeye's chicken they found left behind in a Motel room?
It's about a young Asian-American boy (Chinese-American to be exact), who works in his family owned motel. They live in a rural area and nothing really around. He gets bullied by a local kid what seems like a daily thing. He has one female friend another Asian-American, which he kind of likes, but she doesn't really like him.
The boy seems like he just going with the flow and nothing to do with his life. He is a good writer, but his mom doesn't think he is that good and puts him down for entering a writing contest. Then, when he doesn't win, she puts him even downer.
The boy then meets this older Asian-American guy and gets to know him because he is staying at the motel now. They becomes friends and he seems to enjoy his life more. The older guy encourage him to enjoy life and helps him try to get his dream girl.
Eventually, the boy will have to learn one of life hard lessons, which is we don't always get what we want. Then, everything seems to get back to normal and his relationship with his mother seems to be somewhat better now.
I recommend this movie. It's not the best movie out there, but it delivers a decent good time.