A movie star (Samara Weaving) pretends to date a parking attendant (Eugenio Derbez) after being caught with a married billionaire in The Valet.
Eugenio Derbez and Samara Weaving have fantastic chemistry in a hilarious romantic-comedy. The Valet remakes the 2006 hit French film with a distinctly American storyline. The premise has a glamorous Hollywood actress covering up her affair to a married billionaire by pretending to date a Mexican parking attendant. The fake couple bumbles through laugh-out-loud differences in class, race, and ethnicity. A banner supporting cast from both spheres gobble up their mismatched hijinks. One character in particular nearly steals the show in a sidesplitting sub-plot. The Valet runs long into a sentimental climax. The filmmakers could have achieved rom-com greatness by sticking with a lighter touch in the end.
Antonio Flores (Derbez) lives with his saucy mother (Carmen Salinas) and teenage son (Joshua Vasquez) in a small Los Angeles apartment. He rides his bike to work as a parking valet at the ritzy Kobra restaurant. Isabel (Marisol Nichols), Antonio’s wife, has recently left him for an obnoxious realtor. Antonio is just too nice and sweet. He lets the world trample all over him.
Olivia Allan (Weaving) is a megastar with a blockbuster film coming out. She’s been having a torrid affair with billionaire Vincent Royce (Max Greenfield). He married into the wealth of his heiress wife, Kathryn (Betsy Brandt). Olivia and Vincent go to extraordinary lengths to hide their romps from stalking paparazzi. Olivia barrels out of their hotel room when Vincent stalls on leaving Kathryn. They argue in front of her waiting car, which Antonio plows into on his bike. As Vincent helps him up, the paparazzi capture the entire incident. Kathryn is furious when the pictures are released. Vincent doesn’t want a divorce. Olivia fears her film will tank. They must convince everyone that the hapless bicyclist is her secret lover. Antonio’s stunned when approached by Vincent’s lawyer (Alex Fernandez) to take part in the charade.
Characters in The Valet
The fish-out-water elements are successful on both fronts. Olivia’s surrounded by bootlicking sycophants who cater to her every whim. She’s tossed into Antonio’s Mexican culture of prying friends, relatives, and heaping tamale portions. That’s a big change for an actress who survives on pills and champagne. Antonio’s shell-shocked by her insane wealth and fame. Their first public lunch together is comedic gold.
The supporting characters are integral to the film’s humor. Antonio’s mother, played brilliantly by Carmen Salinas, will have you in stitches. Her secret affair with the building’s elderly Korean handyman also gets exposed early. Their white-hot romance is amplified by the language barrier. She only speaks Spanish. He’s strictly Korean. Leaving a horrified Antonio to translate his mother’s physical wants and need. These scenes are knock-down funny. They evolve into a critical part of the narrative’s resolution.
The Valet is a surprisingly effective commentary on class disparity. Antonio and his Mexican peers are “invisible” to the people they serve. They do the hard labor while being ignored. A rolling gag has Antonio constantly mistaken for being a servant. He feels like a fraud for his “hero” status. Conversely, Olivia realizes that her life is fake. She pays for her friends. Antonio’s tight-knit circle gives her desperately needed warmth. They develop an understanding of what is lacking in each other’s lives.
The Valet does not go in a predictable direction. The film takes a serious turn in the third act. It fits into the context of the story but feels like a buzzkill. I would have preferred to laugh silly until the end. Eugenio Derbez and Samara Weaving are very good here.
The Valet is a production of Pantelion Films and 3Pas Studios. It will have a May 20th exclusive streaming release on Hulu.
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