The Motel movie poster
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The Motel movie poster

The Motel - Movie Synopsis & Plot

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Thirteen-year-old Ernest lives and works at a sleazy hourly-rate motel on a strip of desolate suburban bi-way with his Mother, his Grandfather and his little sister. This is the family business.

Even though he's only thirteen, Ernest has to take on the responsibilities of man of the house since his father has abandoned the family. After school, Ernest cleans all the vacant rooms making sure to sponge off the wet spots on the plastic-sheeted mattresses. He also baby sits his eight-year-old sister Katie whose playground is the parking lot and favorite toy is a dirt-filled headless Barbie. And at night, Ernest watches the front desk making sure that guests pay for their three-hour check-ins.

Ernest's Mother is a battleaxe of a woman -- running her own business and raising two children makes it hard not to be. When she finds out that her son has lied to her about entering and also winning a short story contest, her punishment to him is to regard the whole matter as a waste of time. In her mind, he wasn't even good enough to win anyway; he only got Honorable Mention. Underneath her anger lies the fear that Ernest may actually be growing into an individual.

Ernest's only solace from life at the motel comes in the form of a fifteen-year-old girl named Christine whose family owns the Chinese restaurant down the street. Ernest loves Christine. Christine thinks Ernest is a dork.

And then Sam Kim checks in. Sam, a charismatic Korean American man who has his whole life packed in the trunk of his car, has come to the motel to sleep with as many ethnically diverse prostitutes as possible and hopefully to forget about the crumbling life he left behind. Sam sees himself in Ernest, a boy lost in the worst stages of pre-pubescence with nobody to help guide him. After they bond over a midnight snack of fried chicken, Sam becomes inspired to take Ernest under his wing and teach him the steps to manhood.

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