Based on the 2006 French film of the same name by Francis Veber, The Valet tells the story of a movie star entering into a fake relationship with a parking valet in order to protect her reputation and the reputation of her married lover. What starts as a charming trope that promises to pay back romance lovers in dividends, ends up being quite lifeless and is full of missed opportunities.
At the center of The Valet is Antonio (Eugenio Derbez), who is your typical valet living and working in Los Angeles. He lives with his mom and is currently separated from his wife Isabel (Marisol Nichols), who he is desperately trying to get back together with. One night, he is inadvertently photographed in a picture with movie star Olivia Allan (Samara Weaving) and real estate developer Vincent Royce (Max Greenfield). Vincent and Olivia are having an affair, and in order to hide the truth from his wife, they find Antonio and pay him to be in a relationship with Olivia.
While you might expect Olivia to inevitably fall for Antonio, you would be wrong. Fake dating as a trope is catnip to most lovers of romance. It powered the entire first half of Season 1 of Bridgerton. Of course, Weaving and Derbez have no romantic chemistry, instead, Antonio acts more like Olivia’s older brother. This would be okay, but the two don’t really develop too much of a connection. Olivia struggles as a star, feeling alone and friendless, while Antonio struggles with his self-esteem.
For a rom-com, the movie is surprisingly devoid of both romance and comedy. There’s a depressing funeral that strikes at the climax of the movie. Olivia ends the movie with one new friend and no new relationship. Antonio finds love but it is a clunky romance with a side character that seemed more like a friendly neighbor than a love interest. What starts off as an interesting concept quickly fizzles out into something that is simply going through the motions.
It offers very little that differentiates itself from the 2006 version. While He’s All That was an admitted bad remake, it at least modernized its story. The Valet is still stuck in the 2006 mentality. There’s no mention of social media, no one mentions Tik Tok or Twitter, or Instagram. For a story hinging on public perception, there is so little of it. Even with the subplot of “save the neighborhood” there is no online rallying cry to save the block from getting gentrified.
Derbez, so charming and effervescent in CODA is simply going through the comedic motions. Weaving, who shone in Ready or Not, is merely a caricature of a Hollywood starlet, nothing else. Greenfield is essentially playing a douchier version of Schmidt. Perhaps it’s because the movie is penned by two writers who seem to have little experience writing romance, or maybe it was the lack of overall chemistry, but The Valet is DOA.