Ernest Chin (Jeffrey Chyau) is a chubby thirteen-year-old Chinese American boy whose family owns and operates a sleazy hourly-rate motel. As if being an awkward teenager were not hard enough, Ernest is forced to help with the family business by changing sheets and cleaning up after the motel’s seedy guests. These chores leave him little time to indulge in his creative writing, which his mother scorns. When a charismatic Korean American guest named Sam (Sung Kang, BETTER LUCK TOMORROW) checks in, Ernest is inspired by his reckless freewill and looks to Sam for guidance. Unfortunately, Sam himself is fleeing a troubled past and may not be the ideal role model for this confused young man.
Using a minimalist approach that will resonate long after the film ends, Michael Kang cradles awkward moments with dark and touching humor to create a fresh take on a coming-of-age story. A truly landmark achievement in Asian American cinema, the screenplay for this film earned writer/director Michael Kang a fellowship with the prestigious Sundance Filmmakers Lab.