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Disney+ Review: The Valet

May 18, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

A well-meaning parking valet in Beverly Hills gets roped into a scheme pretending to be the boyfriend of a famous movie star to hide her affair with a married man in the new romantic comedy The Valet, which serves as a surprisingly charming remake of the 2006 French film La Doublure.

The valet is Antonio (Eugenio Derbez), who lives with his elderly mother (Carmen Salinas) in a cramped apartment, and is still trying to win back the ex-wife (Marisol Nichols) with whom he shares a son (Joshua Vasquez).

The movie star is Olivia Allan (Samara Weaving), whose “feminist” Amelia Earhart biopic is about to premiere, but she is in the midst of having an affair with married real estate tycoon Vincent Royce (Max Greenfield), which threatens to upend the press tour if it gets out.

Enter Antonio, who ends up appearing in the same paparazzi photo as her when she is storming out of Vincent’s hotel room, and he happens to be passing by on his bike. The pictures get out, and Vincent hatches a scheme to hire Antonio to act as Olivia’s boyfriend, so that his wife Kathryn (Betsy Brandt) won’t find out about the affair. Antonio and Olivia both agree to go along with their just for show relationship, but also find themselves starting to enjoy each other’s company.

In adapting Frencis Veber’s original film for American audiences, screenwriters Bob Fisher and Rob Greenberg transport the action to the States, and hone in on the specifics of the Hispanic and immigrant communities in California that Antonio inhabits. This cultural specificity is what makes The Valet feel fresh despite its mostly familiar plot (in addition to being a remake, it also has shades of Notting Hill and the more recent Marry Me).

The film sets up a number of subplots, the most heartwarming of which involves the relationship between Antonio’s mother, who only speaks Spanish, and their landlord Mr. Kim (Ji Yong Lee), who only speaks Korean. Neither one understands the other’s language, but have formed a close bond, with their children translating for them. There’s also the amusing and surprisingly sweet “bromance” that starts to form between Stegman (John Pirruccello) and Kapoor (Ravi Patel), a pair of private detectives who are trying to expose Olivia’s “fake” relationship

At two hours, The Valet threatens to feel bloated, but director Richard Wong helps ensure that the film’s somewhat disparate elements come together in mostly satisfying ways. Despite the slight sitcomishness of it at times, Wong also keeps the film feeling mostly grounded, including through a moment of genuine emotion in the last act.

Derbez, who also serves as producer, carries the film with his charming performance as a man who is well-meaning to a fault and learning how to value himself more. Weaving compliments him nicely, and adds depth to her character as she starts to view the superficiality and emptiness of her own life against the less flashy but more loving life that Antonio has with his family.

While it hints at themes involving immigration and the gentrification of the neighbourhood (Vincent is involved in a scheme to buy up and redevelop the local businesses), The Valet doesn’t go that deep and mostly keeps things light, though this isn’t really a fault. It’s predictable, sure, but also surprisingly sweet. The film is simply enjoyable enough and satisfying enough to work, and for a streaming option, that counts for a lot.

The Valet will be available to stream exclusively on Disney+ as of May 20th.

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