The Valet Review

The Valet
The Valet
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Hulu comedy The Valet unfortunately bears the weight of having a trailer that is almost impossible to watch with all its jokes which are so bad they make you either keep quiet or go into a protracted sigh. However, as a 120-minute long film, the final product feels punishing for different reasons, despite having more to offer. For one thing, it’s just another bad case of using Eugenio Derbez; for another thing, it tries hard to associate very silly stories with identity and civilization. This is not something that could not work in itself but here movie cannot handle such a stretch.

Antonio (Derbez) is an out-of-luck Mexican immigrant about to divorce who parks fancy cars for the Los Angeles elite. Coincidence—although this has got nothing to do with Antonio’s job at a nice restaurant elsewhere is unfolding outside an upscale Hollywood hotel – consequently leads these paparazzi shooting the image of the lowly valet at exactly the same time Olivia Allan (Samara Weaving), a Hollywood superstar, embarks on a public fight with her secret lover Vincent Royce (Max Greenfield): A married politician. To put down any rumors regarding their affair and satisfy Kathryn (Betsy Brandt), Vincent’s suspecting wife, both illegal lovers scheme such that Antonio will pretend he is dating Allan who agrees because she thinks that by pretending together they can make his ex-wife Isabel pay some debts off as well as may be able to reconcile back.

This might sound like farce and that would accurately describe La Doublure (2006), the French comedy on which it is based by Francis Veber. On the other hand, The Valet tries to imbue Veber’s class satire with sentimentality and an underdeveloped tale of Latin American culture in Los Angeles turning them into mere trappings. La Doublure got re-made three times in India: in Hindi, Bengali, and Punjabi; they may not been trailblazers but their replication of the original plot ensured success. While an extra half hour is tacked on to the initial’s meager 86-minute full running time by The Valet through these musical numbers that are little more than escapism, it hardly does anything beyond a third act in which it takes itself too seriously—though technically innovative, it has limited bearing upon the main narrative.

Antonio seems like a mix between an idiot and an earnest dad but his personality’s two halves do not go together. He is not so much characterized as one person with many traits, rather he is a broad comedic sketch that sways crazily among these kinds of punch lines according to what the script calls for. Indeed Derbez delivers adequately, though his part mostly falls under the snappy nothingness of How to Be a Latin Lover’s kind rather than something similar to Best Picture winner CODA where he had room to be humorous and fully human.

This flat approach is also true of the character Vincent in Greenfield’s, a very jealous villain whose creation appears to have been influenced by Michael Showalter. Although this simple, comedic approach collapses in The Valet as it tries to apply those principles to someone like Olivia who is not only lonely but desperate for attention from everybody except her PR people. This opportunity finally comes up when she meets Antonio’s family and Weaving shows us some scraps of emotion here and there, however she carries the burden of virtually all human emotion throughout most of the film. However, Derbez has many more moments where he gets laughs than Weaving does and most are related to class differences between them both; however, each scene feels pieced together with no energy or thought put into its humor or timing so that it plays like a rough cut (one wonders if the film wasn’t edited to a laugh track).

The Valet’s depiction of Los Angeles moves with a similar lack of pace. There are fleeting shots of lively Korean and Hispanic neighborhoods meant to bring life into the frame (unlike that false stardom) which pass too quickly and feel too far apart for an account on various cultural aspects of cities being pushed into contact with each other; again this thematic contrast is once more handled by Olivia alone since we meet no one else even approximating her status and barely see any glimpse into her world. Antonio becomes something of a local hero for dating a rich white woman, although instead of treating this plot point as either outright absurdity or satire; it leaves it hanging somewhere strange in between where the film doesn’t know how to reconcile its original story line (which was all-white) with its new racial premise.

Few subplots show promise occasionally: when Olivia interacts with innocent-looking Hispanic employees around Antonio, or when his mother starts seeing her elderly Korean landlord sweetly—both these are tantalizing comic sidebars—but such vibrant characters and their perspectives on love, fame and all else that the movie is really about are swept aside as mere footnotes. As various events unfold in the plot, whether joyous or sad; they usually revolve around the two main characters and their unlikely friendship with little or no influence on how close they come, why they separate, or why they eventually find themselves back in each other’s lives. In relation to this, it may be seen as a romantic comedy of sorts that can’t seem to settle for either romantic love or comedy if borrowed from its source film or generated within its script only.


The Valet is a low-energy comedy adapted from French farce that fails at trying to add commentary and sentimentality into an absurd tale of stardom and pretend love. Eugenio Derbez and Samara Weaving head up a cast more than able to deliver the goods but cannot make up for the lackadaisical pace of the film or its disjointed narrative.

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