Ugh. Movie #2 in the Netflix debacle. The Motel is the story of a young Chinese-American boy who is growing up in a life he can’t stand. His parents run a seedy motel, where he is forced to do all sorts of dull cleaning duties. He has just gotten Honorable Mention in a writing competition, which only causes his mom to berate him (“Honorable Mention is worse than losing. It’s telling everyone that you weren’t good enough to win.”). He spends most of his time daydreaming, looking through the stuff people leave behind – porno mags, old Popeyes boxes – and hanging out with a down-on-his luck Korean-American guy.
Unfortunately, literally every single character in this movie is a stereotype: the dorky Asian boy, the Chinese girl working at a Chinese food restaurant, the stern Asian mom, the drunk Korean, the cute-but-naive younger sister, the white redneck. That actually enumerates almost every single character introduced. There are a few other minor characters, also stereotypes, but at seventy minutes there is not much time for that many characters.
That’s not all a bad thing. Some of the actors just nail their characters. In particular, the main Dorky Asian Boy acts exactly like any other boy his age would, which is an amazing performance for a child actor. The younger sister really seems like your younger sister – which means she’s more trouble than she’s worth. The simultaneous surrealty and mundanity of living in a seedy motel seems fairly true-to-form as well.
This is a typical indie flick, though, so it has the usual problems. Some of the acting is lamentable. The story is a short little character study. Even when you leave the main set, the world feels cobbled together and like the filmmakers were just wandering around their neighborhood. But like any good indie flick, the script more than makes up for it.
Love – “A House Is Not A Motel” [mediafire]