The Motel (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Motel (2005)



Critic Consensus: A coming-of-age dramedy whose familiar outline is filled in with rewarding empathy and character detail, The Motel marks an impressive feature debut for writer-director Michael Kang.

Movie Info

Writer-director Michael Kang makes his feature debut with the coming-of-age comedy, The Motel. Newcomer Jeffrey Chyau stars as Ernest Chin, a chubby 13 year-old Chinese-American boy whose mother (Jade Wu) runs a sleazy motel in upstate New York. The clientele of The Motel are predominantly prostitutes and their johns, which spurs Ernest's budding sexual curiosity. When he's not cleaning rooms, eavesdropping on guests, avoiding the local bully, or tormenting his little sister Katie (Alexis Chin), Ernest harbors a crush on Christine (Samantha Futerman), who works at a nearby Chinese restaurant. Ernest has entered a writing contest at school with a story about his unhappy life at The Motel, and won an honorable mention. His scornful mother thinks his writing is a waste of time, and Ernest doesn't want her to see the story for fear that it will anger her. He's a social misfit, so he's intrigued when Sam Kim (Sung Kang of Better Luck Tomorrow), a Korean-American guest who frequently brings home prostitutes, befriends him. Sam takes Ernest under his wing, teaching him to drive and offering him his wisdom regarding women. Of course, Sam turns out to have his own serious issues with the opposite sex, and his advice to Ernest about Christine may not be exactly what the boy needs. Kang won the Asian American International Film Festival screenwriting competition with his script for The Motel in 2001, and the completed film was shown at the festival in 2005. The script was workshopped at the Sundance labs, where filmmaker Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl) signed on as a producer.

Watch it now


Jade Wu
as Ahma Chin
Stephen Chen
as Gung Gung
Jackie Nova
as Shakira
Ian Boyd
as Jimmy
Glen Brackenridge
as Cheap Ass Naked Man
Cheryl Campbell
as Naked Woman
Douglas Bell
as Big John
Alia Raza
as Lola Legs
Melanie Sands
as Hot Blonde
Olivia Kim
as Asian Hottie
Albert Bramante
as Little John
Fausat Lawal
as Boomin' System Escort
Grace Lamb
as Grace In Wedding Photo
David Keller
as Married Discreet
Zeke Hawkins
as Street Hustler
Heather White
as Hank's Mistress
Matthew Mooney
as Chop Suey Skater
Matthew Schimkowitz
as Dumpling Skater
View All

News & Interviews for The Motel

Critic Reviews for The Motel

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (16)

The Motel gives the lie to all those mainstream teen sex comedies starring happy, horny gwailos .

November 17, 2006 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Perhaps The Motel meanders a bit too much -- hard to do in a 76-minute film -- but it is an engaging little movie.

October 20, 2006 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

It's a modest triumph of unflattering realism, proving yet again that a camera, a few good actors, the right material and a sensitive director are all you need to illuminate any particular aspect of humanity.

September 1, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

There is honesty and integrity in the filmmaking and the performances, which make The Motel among the best character studies of the year.

August 31, 2006 | Rating: B+

A well-worn coming-of-age tale enlivened by pungent detail and a sharp visual sense.

July 27, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Even if writer-director Michael Kang doesn't exactly break new ground, he imbues his debut with a quiet, compelling inertia that mimics puberty's rudderless drift, its burgeoning desire for something, anything, to change.

July 27, 2006

Audience Reviews for The Motel

A different type of coming of age story features a young Chinese boy who is pushed into depression by his mother while he works in a seemingly dead end motel business. Very charming.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Pretty short and low-budget, but a decent indie flick about a young chinese boy who works with his family at a suburban motel (hence the title). It's a very character-driven story and quite funny in parts. Sadly though, it got kind of dull after a while, as there wasn't much going on. The dialogue is also overly simple and doesn't hold much substance at all. So the only thing that really make this movie worthwhile is its originality, plus the humor bits. A fairly enjoyable watch, but I expected so much more than what I got.

Mike S
Mike S

Super Reviewer

Hilarious and touching, in the vein of Napoleon Dynamite but more human. I really enjoyed this movie and got to meet the producer at a Q&A, she seems pretty brilliant. Chubby Chinese kid coping with emerging sexuality at his family's run-dwon motel.

a b
a b

Super Reviewer

The Motel Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features