The Valet adds substance to a familiar Hollywood trope while giving it a charming spin.
Starring: Eugenio Derbez, Samara Weaving, Max Greenfield, Betsy Brandt, Marisol Nichols, Amaury Nolasco, and Carmen Salinas
Directed by: Richard Wong
Tagline: Never judge a couple by their cover.
he fake relationship trope has been revisited by Hollywood so many times that you’d be forgiven for rolling your eyes every time a new faux-romance project stumbles onto the big screen. It’s a good thing though that every once in a while a movie like The Valet comes along to show us that there’s so much that can still be done with even a tired idea if you add a little subversion and a whole lot of heart into the mix.
The Hulu original film – a remake of the 2006 French flick La Doublure – has the same fake-dating scenario at its core that we’ve seen in several movies – from classics like Pretty Woman to the more recent To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and dozens of rom-coms in between – already, but it’s the film’s feel-good, wholesome vibes that easily win you over.
The faux couple at the centre of the tale are Antonio (Eugenio Derbez), a cash-strapped parking attendant, and Olivia (Samara Weaving), a famous actress.
He is hoping to get back together with his estranged wife (Marisol Nichols) and is looking for money to pay off her debts.
She is having an affair with a married billionaire city developer named Vincent (Max Greenfield).
Chance brings them together when a paparazzo photographs Olivia and Vincent alongside a by-standing Antonio together. Fearing that he will lose his company if his wife (Betsy Brandt) divorces him, Vincent tries to quash the rumours of his affair with Olivia – who herself wants to avoid bad publicity – by convincing her to pretend to date Antonio and arranges to pay the latter for his part in the ruse.
But things take a turn as Olivia begins to spend time with Antonio and his delightful family. The two bond as the movie explores topics like friendship, community, self-respect, multiculturalism, and gentrification. Its warm vibes effortlessly pull at your heartstrings as the characters develop, re-evaluate their lives, and skirt various rom-com clichés along the way, while the well-cast actors bring authenticity to their respective roles.
It may not be the most flashy or instantly memorable entry in its genre, but The Valet is a touching, amusing offering that succeeds in giving a tired premise a gentle, refreshing spin, while making the incidental point that streaming services might be better off if they paid a little more attention to producing this kind of charming content.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection