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‘The Valet’ Review: One of the Best American Remakes in Years

Richard Wong's "The Valet" is one of the best American remakes in years, and the definitive version of Francis Veber's 2006 original.

The Valet is a remake of the 2006 french film of the same name, directed by Francis Veber and starring Gad Elmaleh and Alice Taglioni, which was remade in India three times, with Do Knot Disturb, Disco Singh, and Haripada Bandwala. So it was inevitable that the film would eventually get remade in America, and now it’s finally hit Hulu and Disney+. It came out last week, but I watched the other versions of the movie to get a clearer picture of what the American version could become. After thinking that Do Knot Disturb was the best version of Veber’s film and that nothing could improve the sheer insanity that this film goes through to produce vast amounts of laughter, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised at how good Richard Wong’s version of The Valet was. It’s even more surprising when the marketing for this movie has been downright terrible, from a pretty mediocre trailer to one of the worst posters I’ve seen since the Spider-Man: No Way Home ones. But it’s a great movie and perhaps one of the best American remakes I’ve seen in years. 

Read: Hulu/Disney+ Aquire Samara Weaving Film ‘The Valet’

The Valet follows the same framing device as all of the other versions of Veber’s film; an actress (Samara Weaving) has an affair with a bigshot billionaire (Max Greenfield) and gets photographed by a hungry paparazzi, while our titular valet (Eugenio Derbez) is in the picture. The billionaire tries to cover up the affair with his wife (Betsy Brandt) by saying that the actress has a relationship with the valet, forcing our protagonist and the actress to make up a relationship, which causes hilarity. But it has what other previous versions of the movie lacks: a solid emotional core and two great performances that hold the film together and makes us feel for both characters.

Derbez plays Antonio Flores, living with his mother (the late Carmen Salinas) and his family, who pop in and out of his apartment. Other versions of The Valet did not explore our protagonist’s relationship with his family, except for Do Knot Disturb, which barely touched upon Godharvan (Ritesh Deshmukh) accepting to be in a fake relationship with Dolly (Lara Dutta) to pay for his mother’s healthcare. But this is the first time the movie dedicates its time to exploring our protagonist’s relationship with his entire family because that will be the driving force of Antonio’s friendship with Samara Weaving’s Olivia, who have incredible chemistry together.

Without them leading the movie, its emotional core wouldn’t have been as effective. They’re surprisingly charming and hilarious together in many sequences, but the softer scenes of the movie showcase both performers’ talents. Derbez is a highly underrated comedic actor and gets to be in many embarrassingly funny situations here. Still, his relationship with his mother, the rest of his family, the neighborhood, and Olivia sells his performance and reminds us how he can deftly balance multiple emotional swings in the same movie.

The movie takes a surprisingly dark turn close to its final act without spoiling anything, and Derbez shines during that particular moment. It’s a moment that isn’t in any previous versions and adds a significant emotional depth and character to every character. There isn’t a single side character that isn’t well-developed or forgotten. Everyone has their time to shine. The longer runtime (124 minutes vs. 86 for the original) allows Wong and screenwriters Bob Fisher and Rob Greenberg to craft the deep emotional core between the characters and the compelling relationship Derbez and Weaving will carry for the rest of the movie.

But the movie is not without its flaws. One of the major subplots of the film, on a developer buying parts of the neighborhood to build a gentrified community, is barely explored, even if the movie circles around that plotline from time to time. But had that storyline not been included in the movie, it would’ve been way more effective without it. It’s almost as if Wong wants to criticize the effects of gentrification without a goal for his critique. So he has a couple of sequences with Antonio and Natalie (Diany Rodriguez), a bike store owner, but those scenes only slow down the movie’s main plot and don’t necessarily add much. Another bit with two detectives (Ravi Patel & John Pirruccello) is fine but slows down the film, and its comedy is hit or miss. Sometimes it works, but there are long stretches in which you’re wondering what it’s doing in the movie because it doesn’t add much to the characters and the story.

Still, I was very much surprised at The Valet, a movie that looked primed to be dunked on, only for it to turn out to be a sweet, heartfelt, and emotionally impactful rom-com that hit straight in the feels during its most powerful scene, and brought subtle, but genuinely funny sequences to the table. Eugenio Derbez and Samara Weaving are surprisingly great together, with Derbez giving it some much-needed dramatic pull that no other actor could’ve ever pulled off. It’s shocking to see how dedicated Derbez is to the role and the emotional power he brings to Antonio, making it the most advanced and best version of The Valet. Hopefully, there won’t be another remake since this is the definitive version of Veber’s film in my book. But if you’re willing to see something truly insane, you should watch Do Knot Disturb

The Valet is now streaming on Hulu in the United States and on Disney+ internationally.

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