CINEMA

THE VALET (2022)

Movie Review

MPAA: PG13
Release Date: 05/20/22 [
Hulu]
Genre: Comedy/Romance

Studio: Lionsgate

THE "IMDB" PREMISE:

"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."

OUR MOVIE REVIEW:

The storyline in The Valet isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s a remake of a 2006 French film called La Doublure which I have not seen. But this is one of those rare times when a remake and the familiarity of the story don’t hinder your enjoyment. Olivia (Samara Weaving) is a famous actress who is having a sordid affair with married billionaire Vincent (Max Greenfield). After their regular meetup at a hotel, Olivia tries to end things. Vincent chases after her and they wind up having a little spat on the street. Their feud is interrupted by a man on a bicycle, Antonio (Eugenio Derbez), who crashes into a parked car. 

 

The next day the news cycle is abuzz with rumors of Olivia and Vincent’s affair. Vincent’s wife Kathryn (Betsy Brandt) is suspicious of this alleged affair and Olivia is worried the news will overshadow the upcoming premiere of her new movie Amelia. It is mutually beneficial for them both if the story goes away. Vincent and his right hand man, Daniel (Alex Fernandez), craft a plan and present it to Olivia. They scheme to find the man on the bicycle and make it seem like he and Olivia are dating to divert attention away from Vincent. Antonio works as a valet at a restaurant and Daniel tracks him down and offers him money to pretend to date Olivia. From there, Olivia and Antonio spend some time together and go on a few dates. Predictably, Olivia doesn’t have any friends and doesn’t speak to her family. In the vapid and shallow world of Hollywood, she finds that Antonio is a genuine person who she can actually talk to. Things of course go sideways but it ends differently than you might think. 

 

What makes The Valet work so well are the performances of Weaving and Derbez. Weaving has an uphill battle making Olivia - an attractive, rich, movie star - actually likable. It’s hard to pity someone who is dripping in luxurious privilege but Weaving infuses Olivia with a level of sincerity that is endearing and relatable. Derbez helps build Antonio from a modest, insecure man who most people overlook into someone who comes into his own. They are helped by an outstanding supporting cast. Antonio lives with his mother (Carmen Salinas) who doesn’t speak any English. That doesn’t stop her from delivering some absolute zingers throughout the movie. You’ll laugh out loud at some of the things she says, especially when talking about her lover, Mr. Kim. Antonio’s buddies at work are also standouts. Buddy (Amaury Nolasco), Javier (Carlos Santos), and Rudy (Armando Hernández) have insanely good chemistry and you believe that they’ve been friends for years. There’s an incredible scene where they order at a Dunkin’ Donuts drive through that is pure entertainment. All in all the cast is excellent and their performances make The Valet thoroughly enjoyable. 

 

The Valet also gives some insight into the differences in standard of living based on class and race in the U.S. Antonio lives in an apartment complex with his mother, doesn’t have a car, and works as a valet to make ends meet. He comments that he’s invisible to the people who hand over their keys to him. Once while at a restaurant with Olivia, people assume he’s a waiter and ask for water refills. There’s also a loose plot about gentrification pushing the Latino community out of their homes. The glaring difference between those with and those without is highlighted, which gives The Valet additional weight and merit even if it does gloss over asking the really hard questions. 

 

Although the story isn’t original and will undoubtedly make most people think longingly of Notting Hill, The Valet is a lot of fun. It’s full of characters who are funny and personable. Weaving and Derbez are excellent and the surrounding cast are just as memorable. If you’re looking for light-hearted fun, then The Valet is a safe bet.

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OUR VERDICT: