The Valet Synopsis: A movie star (Samara Weaving) enlists a parking valet (Eugenio Derbez) at a Beverly Hills restaurant to pose as her lover to cover for her relationship with a married man. A remake of a 2006 French film of the same name.
In an era where comedic stars are a dying breed, Eugenio Derbez serves as one of the few stars cultivating a loyal audience. Derbez transformed his stature in the Mexico film scene into remarkable domestic success after his 2013 indie breakout Instructions Not Included. His starring efforts, like Overboard and How to Be a Latin Lover, represent the type of breezy, feel-good studio comedies often ignored in our cinematic landscape.
Derbez’s affable charisma now graces streaming screens with The Valet. As a down-on-his-luck valet thrust into a tabloid-pleasing relationship with a Hollywood starlet, Derbez tries his best to prop up an inoffensive yet ineffective detour through comedic contrivances.
Audiences would be hardpressed to write off Derbez’s latest completely. Similar to his previous offerings, Derbez and frequent collaborator/screenwriter Rob Greenberg infuse a slew of modern insights into the tried and true genre formula.
The Valet often finds humorous avenues for riffing on gentrification, the mistreatment of working-class Americans, and ever-apparent racial prejudices while still maintaining a postive comedic energy. When the bright comedic sparks connect, the film displays welcomed comedic bite for the agreeable genre formula. Derbez and co-star Samara Weaving also share a friendly rapport as an unlikely pair faking their way through Hollywood paparazzi.
Unfortunately, the moments of sharp interplay only work to highlight the script’s notable shortcomings. Greenberg and co-writer Bob Fisher suffocate their socially-conscious nucleus inside a comedy operating on autopilot. Several dead-on-arrival running gags and simplistic pratfalls borrow tired tropes without proper reinvention. The story feels similarly listless, often jockeying between melodramatic plot devices and obvious narrative twists that only reinforce the foreboding familiarity.
I wish the creative team allowed The Valet more road to stretch its wings. Director Richard Wong’s unimaginative and visually flat craftsmanship only reinforces the material’s shortcomings – rarely finding opportunities to engage with the comedic premise’s meaningful core. The end product is rarely a torturous experience, but it’s a bummer to see potential squandered by a lack of ambition and creativity.
The Valet feels ironically tailor-made for its unceremonious streaming release. Glimpses of entertainment value can’t overcome an experience destined to fade from viewers’ memory banks.
The Valet is now playing on Hulu.
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