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drama DVD reviews and previews from curledupdvd.com - curled up with a good dvd
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The Motel - drama DVD review
THE MOTEL Not Rated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Jeffrey Chyau, Sung Kang, Jade Wu, Samantha Futerman, Alexis Chang
Director: Michael Kang   Studio: Palm Pictures/UMVD
DVD release: 30 Jan. 2007   Runtime: 76 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1), Commentary by director Michael Kang & actors Sung Kang & Jeffrey Chyau, Behind-the-scenes Featurette, Director's Picks, Trailer

I don't know of anyone who had an easy time when they were 13. There's a lot of pain in finding your way through the hormone fog clouding the mind, trying to fit in. Ernest (Jeffrey Chyau) is no different. He's chubby, wears glasses, works at the family motel cleaning rooms, and has a major crush on Christine (Samantha Futerman), who waits tables at the Chinese restaurant. Ernest meets all kinds of people at his family's seedy motel. Some guests are long-term, and some aren't (hourly rates, don't you know?). One long-term guest, Sam (Sung Kang), befriends Ernest and tries to bring him out of his shell. He plays catch with Ernie, as he calls him, and teaches him how to drive. Sam has been thrown out by his wife, who seems to have gotten over him. Sam goes through the ladies for a time, then mostly loses himself in booze.

Ernest is bullied by Roy (Conor J. White), a kid near Ernest's age who is staying at the motel with his sister Jess (Jackson Budinger). Roy reasons that Ernest is a faggot and suggests that if he wants to prove this theory wrong, he should either fight Roy or kiss Jess. Who can argue with that logic? I can recall being bullied in my painful era, but never with the escape hatch that is the sister-kiss.

Ernest has trouble seeing eye-to-eye with his stern mother, Ahma (Jade Wu). He's entered a writing contest and earned honorable mention; she thinks its a waste of time and tells him that honorable mention is worse than losing. According to her, they are pulling him out of the crowd to point out that he isn't good enough to win. Ernest takes some of this to heart - who wouldn't? His mother is only pulling out his insecurities and reinforcing them.

I won't go into detail on the final scene, but it is touching and brilliant. Director Michael Kang's ending is silent but speaks volumes. Perfection.
reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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