A very touching and close to heart movie about a young Chinese boy growing up in an Asian family. In the morning he goes to school. When he comes home, he helps out with the family business, which is a motel. Just hitting puberty, this boy is beginning to enter a whole new world.
The movie stars a very quiet shy boy, somewhat on the chubbier side. He helps out the family business, a motel, by changing the sheets, vacuuming the floor, washing the bathrrom, etc. He lives with his mother, his grandfather (mother’s side), and his little sister (very cute). He grew up without a father and has no idea why his father left them.
Since he does the cleanup work for the motel, many people often come in the afternoon and occupy it for a couple hours, leaving the hotel room left with stains and used condoms and once in awhile, he finds a treasure: a porn magazine. He also found a box of fried chicken once which he shared with a friend.
He has a crush on this girl for sometime. She’s a few years older and works a nearby Chinese restaurant. He doesn’t have the courage to express his feelings and just goes on day by day just hanging out with her, and trying every way to make her happy.
Then in comes this Korean dude, who’s back story I didn’t really get. It appears that he lost his wife (and maybe family). He often calls home, but no one picks up. However, he seems have prostitutes over every few hours, different ones too, while he’s staying at the motel. One thing I didn’t really get was why his credit cards got denied. He seems to have the cash for the hookers and food, drives a new BMW, and has a nice house… Maybe he just got so depressed to the point he doesn’t even bother opening mail or paying bills anymore.
However, this Korean dude has sort of become the father figure in this little boy’s life. They’ve enjoyed the time together, telling stories, playing catch, throwing chicken bones, teaching/learning how to drive, etc. The boy even covers up the missing payment by taking money out of his own savings (red envelopes). Their trust got to the point where the boy decided to show him the ‘essay’.
The ‘essay’ was written about his life, titled “The Motel”. As someone who grew up in an Asian family, I can understand exactly what he’s going through, though I have to say he’s got it a lot worse than me. The only reason he wrote the survey was because “the girl” said he should do it. He actually got honorable mention and was invited to a dinner. However, his mom got that letter first and got angry at him for not letting her know he entered a contest. She said getting “honorable mention” was worse than losing. It’s like advertising you were not good enough to be number 1. I felt that to be really out of place because even if I got 3rd or 4th, my parents would be happy. Of course not as happy as if I had gotten 1st place.
Anyway, the Korean dude gave some advice on how the boy should approach the girl and the whole thing just goes all wrong. He wasn’t experience and tries to force his way in and the girl totally rejects him and says she’s always thought of him as a brother. They both get pissed and this long friendship suddenly has entered an irreparable state.
The boy gets super pissed, goes back tells the Korean dude he has to leave. The Korean dude just laughs it off and the little boy begins to beat the Korean dude with a baseball bat. Instead of fighting back, he calls the little boy weak and tells him to hit harder like a man. Things get to the point where they’re both exhausted. The boy still insists that he has to leave. The Korean dude says if he leaves, he won’t come back (as in noting that the boy needs him). In the end he leaves.
During this time, the mom had found the essay and said the essay was stupid before even reading it. I was shocked that this mother knew how to read English. Then again, I guess her English speaking level was above average. The family mixes in Cantonese with English into their daily dialect. After her son called her an ugly old mean lady and stole her car, she sat down and began to read the essay. I don’t know exactly what the essay wrote, but you can tell she was touched. She either began crying or you could tell that she held her tears. If I had to guess, the story began with her telling the background of the family, the going into the hardship the families had to encounter and how hard it was that their father was no longer there. I’m not sure if he ever gets to the point where he says he understands his mom, but the mom seems to have a better understanding of her son now.
The movie ends with the mom finishes reading the essay and comes out. The son returns and tears start to roll out of his eyes and they hug.