The Motel

"Very Good"

The Motel Review


Check in here to remember everything bad about your teen years. A welcome addition to the "awkward adolescence" genre, The Motel captures a small slice of a boy's excruciating puberty with all its frustrations, humiliations, and humbling realizations. A 2005 Sundance favorite, it's a delicate mix of humor and pathos with a gritty indie feel.

Ernest (Jeffrey Chyau), age 13, is a chubby Chinese-American boy who lives in his family-owned motel with his perpetually angry and demanding mother (Jade Wu), his aged grandfather, and his bratty but cute younger sister. A rundown lodge on the edge of suburbia, the motel rents rooms by the hour and attracts a mix of hookers, travelers, and poor folks who have lost their homes. After school, Ernest serves as the housekeeper, pushing a cart from room to room and picking up used condoms and girlie mags off the floor.

The brightest spot in his grim life is Christine (Samantha Futerman), a slightly older girl on whom he has a crush. The two hang out together by the Dumpster outside her family's Chinese restaurant, and lately their frequent wrestling matches have started to make Ernest feel, you know, funny.

The motel livens up with the arrival of Sam Kim (Sang Kung), a hard-drinking guy who's been thrown out by his wife and now entertains a string of hookers in his room. He takes a liking to Ernest and soon becomes a sort of surrogate big brother and debauched father figure, introducing Ernest not only to baseball but also to cigarettes, driving without a license, and the fine art of convincing chicks to have sex.

Of course Ernest's attempt to use Sam's tricks to woo Christine fail miserably, he gets beaten up by a young teen who lives at the motel, and his mother mocks the honorable mention he earns in a writing contest, saying that second place is worse than losing outright. The poor kid... he just wants to get through the day, but the world seems to conspire against him, and the adults around him either verbally abuse him or lead him astray.

Chyau, a non-actor, nails the halting and tongue-tied embarrassment of adolescence. He rarely smiles (braces!) and is always looking at his feet. Sam does light a fire within him, a passion we see most clearly when the two go out for a nighttime drive and scream at God, demanding He explain His actions and give them what they want. Kang is captivating as well. Drunken lout though he may be, his Sam is an easy guy to like.

DVD Note: Don't miss the making-of featurette, if only to see the cast interviews, which were recorded more than two years after the filming. Jeffrey Chyau has gone through a complete physical teenage transformation. He looks and sounds absolutely nothing like he did in the movie. Clearly he eventually did make it through puberty just fine.

I said bring extra towels.



The Motel

Facts and Figures

Run time: 75 mins

In Theaters: Monday 24th January 2005

Distributed by: Palm Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Michael Kang

Producer: , Karin Chien, ,

Starring: Jeffrey Chyau as Ernest, as Sam, Jade Wu as Ahma Chin, as Christine, Alexis Chang as Katie (as Alexis Kapp Chang), Stephen Chen as Gung Gung, Conor J. White as Roy, Jackson Budinger as Jess, as Walter, as Gina, Ron Domingo as Hank, Jackie Nova as Shakira, Jake Holbrook as Toby, Ian Boyd as Jimmy, Glen Brackenridge as Cheap Ass Naked Man

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.