The Valet

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

The Valet
dir Richard Wong
scr Bob Fisher, Rob Greenberg
prd Eugenio Derbez, Ben Odell
with Eugenio Derbez, Samara Weaving, Max Greenfield, Betsy Brandt, Marisol Nichols, Amaury Nolasco, Carmen Salinas, Joshua Vasquez, Noemi Gonzalez, Alex Fernandez, Ravi Patel, John Pirruccello
release US/UK 20.May.22
22/US Lionsgate 1h57

derbez weaving greenfield

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Derbez and Weaving
Goofy slapstick punctuates most scenes in this remake of a 2006 French farce. It's a witty play on glamorous celebrity culture, although the script never grapples with the idea. Instead, it shifts a bit clunkily into warm, sentimental look at the need for respect and integrity. So while there are no surprises in the familiar story, the movie is at least mindlessly entertaining and populated with charming characters.
Parking cars at a posh Beverley Hills eatery, Antonio (Derbez) lives in a small apartment with his feisty mother (Salinas) and smart teen son Marco (Vasquez). Then he is accidentally photographed between actress Olivia (Weaving) and her married lover, the slippery local politician Vincent (Greenfield). So Vincent's fixer (Fernandez) convinces Antonio to pretend to be Olivia's boyfriend to divert paparazzi attention. Of course everyone around them gets the wrong idea, causing chaos in their personal lives while keeping the tabloids very happy indeed. Meanwhile, Antonio is hoping to get back together with his ex (Nichols).
Witty gags are peppered all the way through the film, usually playing up the usual absurdities of the ultra-wealthy, from casual pill-popping to teams of stylists. And the high-life is carefully contrasted with Antonio's humble lifestyle, often to cartoonish degree. More interesting is his Hispanic culture, which touches a nerve in the press. And while it's corny, it's quietly telling that rich people mistake Antonio for the help while workers see him as a hero.

Derbez mutes his usual charisma as Antonio, aided by a silly haircut, frowny face and general cluelessness. But of course he's still hugely likeable. Weaving has some fun with Olivia's diva tendencies, and softens endearingly when confronted Antonio's extended family. This is nicely contrasted with her stereotypical lonely life at the glitzy top. The large ensemble of side characters is mainly here to offer comic relief, apart from Greenfield, who's enjoyably sleazy as the comical villain of the piece.

Because it's clear from the start that Antonio's cluttered, messy home is far more honest than Olivia's shimmering movie star lifestyle, there's never even a slight doubt about where this is heading. The story structure demands a series of sudden personality changes and a couple of momentous plot points along the way. This cranks up the emotional undercurrents in order to tie each plot strand in a tidy bow. So while the film's perhaps isn't funny or complex enough to be memorable, the themes and characters make it an enjoyably way to spend a couple of hours.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 17.May.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall