The Valet (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – A movie star enlists a parking valet at a Beverly Hills restaurant to pose as her lover to cover for her relationship with a married man.

My Take – In this day and age, it has become increasing difficult to stand most romantic comedies, with very few exceptions there and between. This one too, at first glance seemed like a complete eye roller stitched together with elements of buddy comedies and wacky-ethnic-family comedies.

Nevertheless, I decided to give it a chance for its two leads, Eugenio Debrez, who I believe has excellent comic timing that is yet to be fully explored in American productions, and Samara Weaving, whose star has been deservingly on the rise since her break out roles in The Babysitter (2017) and Ready or Not (2019).

Thankfully, keeping up with the recent trend of unusually high quality American remakes of European films, this one turned to be a surprisingly watchable lighthearted entertainer that is both funny and uplifting at the same time.

An adaptation of the 2006 French comedy of the same name, here, director Richard Wong and writers Rob Greenberg and Bob Fisher (Wedding Crashers, We’re the Millers) produce a solid adaptation of the material that uses the same basic idea but all the while also allows them to leave their own mark.

Sure, the plot is quite reminiscent of the Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson starrer Marry Me (2022), and is almost bursting at the seams with smaller subplots, some of which don’t entirely get their due, but thanks to its charming and witty script, by the end of its 123 minute run time, most of it is forgotten.

It also helps that the film is anchored by two leads who are very appealing and relish on the genuine humor and the emotions sprinkled throughout. Making this is a Rom-Com that is parts funny, serious, happy, sad and all around enjoyable.

The story follows Antonio Flores (Eugenio Derbez), a parking valet from Los Angeles who has been living with his mother (Carmen Salinas) since his separation from his wife Isabel (Marisol Nichols), a process which he believes is only temporary and that she will eventually find her way back to him. However, his life changes drastically when he’s caught in a paparazzi snap with the prominent actress Olivia Allan (Samara Weaving) and her married billionaire real estate developer boyfriend Vincent Royce (Max Greenfield), during the pair’s tussle due to his repeated delays in leaving his wife, Kathryn Royce (Betsy Brandt).

Desperate to remain in his wife’s good books, Vincent concocts a story that Olivia is actually dating Antonio, and gets his lawyer, Daniel (Alex Fernandez), to approach him with a deal to pretend to be Olivia’s new flame in the public eye, in exchange of paying of Isabel’s debts.

Olivia too agrees to go with the plan to protect her own reputation. As she has just launched her own film company, a company focused on making films on female-centred narratives, so a widely publicized affair with a married man is the last thing she needs. As the two become instant news, the actress and the valet, complications begin to arise aplenty.

Without a doubt the film has strong Notting Hill (1999) vibes, as we see a famous celebrity thrown together with a regular guy, and the juxtaposition is all the more glaring as Antonio’s never moved in such circles, along with everyone’s in disbelief that Antonio has enough game to reel in someone like Olivia. This generates a fair bit of comedy, especially the peripheral speculations on Antonio’s appeal, and his possible lovemaking prowess.

While there are all kinds of comic hi jinks here, director Richard Wong’s deft direction is crisp and most importantly trusts his performers to deliver. For example, the couple’s first dinner date together is a particular highlight, as it doesn’t rely on broad laughs and scenes of slapstick to maintain interest. It manages to engage with its humanizing story and messages of tolerance.

The film is given an additional layer by letting Antonio and his family speak Spanish. Though the film doesn’t dig too deep into any racial issues, it does acknowledge that there is a difference between LA’s elite and its immigrant communities.

But most importantly, suiting the temperament of the present generation, it does not go-ahead to set unrealistic standards. The film takes its time to build their friendship so it feels authentic, and thoughtful and gives both the characters space to think and figure out their surroundings, giving it a platonic romantic comedy turn, instead of just trying to satisfy the well-worn out formula.

Yes, at times, it does feel like the film is loaded with a bit too many subplots, since we have commentary on class differences, the whole rebellion against the gentrification of the neighborhood, as well as the poignant subplot at the center of things. But the film never gets boring, instead the charms help push past any issues that arise.

This is mainly due to the fantastic cast as a whole and the outstanding performances of both Eugenio Derbez and Samara Weaving. Debrez‘s innocent persona works extremely well here and he’s able to do quite a lot without saying anything. He also has solid chemistry with Samara Weaving. Weaving shows off superb comic chops with expertly deployed eye rolls and stony glares of disapproval. In her final role, Carmen Salinas is adorable as Antonio’s mother, while Max Greenfield continues is hilarious.

In other roles, Amaury NolascoBetsy Brandt, Marisol Nichols, Alex Fernandez, Ravi Patel, John Pirruccello, Diany Rodriguez, Noemi Gonzalez and Tiana Okoye are also good. On the whole, ‘The Valet’ is pleasantly enjoyable Rom-Com anchored by its delightful leads.

Directed –

Starring – Eugenio Derbez, Samara Weaving, Max Greenfield

Rated – PG13

Run Time – 123 minutes

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