'The Valet' Takes a Joyride with Our Hearts

Directed by Richard Wong

Starring Eugenio Derbez, Samara Weaving, Max Greenfield, Marisol Nichols

BY Alex HudsonPublished May 18, 2022

The Valet is the latest entry in the rom-com micro-genre of "civilians dating celebrities" (see also: Notting Hill, Marry Me). In this remake of a 2006 French film, famous actor Olivia Allan (Samara Weaving) is having an affair with married billionaire Vincent (Max Greenfield) and, after getting caught by the paparazzi, the secret lovers hire Puerto Rican valet Antonio (Eugenio Derbez) to pretend to be Olivia's boyfriend.

The film hits many of the beats viewers will expect: Olivia is uptight and lives in a bubble of fame, and having a glimpse of a normal family dynamic makes her realize how shallow and superficial her life is; Antonio's brush with celebrity makes him revered by his peers, providing many moments of how did she end up with him?

The twist with The Valet is that the romance isn't actually between the main couple — it's not too much of a spoiler to say that this is more about friendship than love. Antonio is trying to win back his ex-wife Isabel (Marisol Nichols), while Olivia is trying to figure out where she stands with the increasingly obnoxious Vincent (who claims he's going to leave his wife for her, as they always do). 

The Valet grapples with a few serious themes: the intersection of race and class, the way the media scrutinizes women's bodies, and the importance of family. But mostly, it's pure fun — like a Dunkin' order that stretches on way too long, or Antonio's frozen-faced terror when he attends a movie premiere with Olivia.

And as silly as The Valet often is, it's surprisingly heartfelt; particularly in the final act. Derbez is riveting, selling Antonio's fish-out-of-water silliness and his tender kindness with equal gusto. Weaving is similarly multifaceted, projecting a sense of poise before letting her guard down behind closed doors.

It would be easy for The Valet to just be a fun culture clash, but Derbez and Weaving turn their characters into rounded people, making for an absorbing ride that's far more affecting than expected.

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