Existing outside the reality of any plausible scenario, absurdist romantic comedy The Valet is the perfect fit for streamer Hulu. Eugenio Derbez and Samara Weaving headline this quirky easy watch, complete with a sugary-sweet message. Those longing for a bygone throwback or a meta modern take on the genre can look elsewhere; The Valet may feel dated by 2022 standards, but it is also an entertaining rom-com that wears its heart on its sleeve.
Antonio (Derbez) is a simple valet who drives around expensive cars, meanwhile owning only a bicycle. Little Marco (Joshua Vasquez), Antonio’s son, gets a daily ride home from school on Antonio’s bike; he shares custody with his ex, Isabel (Marisol Nichols). Antonio lives in a dingy apartment with his aging mother, Cecilia (Carmen Salinas), and has a massive, colorful extended family. Everything is about to change, as Antonio gets distracted on his bike and crashes spectacularly into a parked Uber.
Enter stage right: famous actress Olivia Allan (Weaving), on the cusp of a huge movie release. She has requested said Uber after a brief spat with billionaire Vincent Royce (Max Greenfield), and instead of a hasty getaway, Antonio splays out in front of Olivia. Being famous comes with its downsides, one of which is the paparazzi, and the hungry bastards are already in pounce mode. They snap countless photos of Olivia with Vincent. Their torrid love affair seems to have met its natural conclusion.
TMZ blasts the pictures everywhere, shocking people including Isabel, as well as Royce’s wife, Kathryn (Betsy Brandt). Vincent is quick to try to cover by saying that Olivia was actually with the other person in the picture, none other than valet Antonio. They decide unanimously that the best course of action is to pass off this story as reality. Antonio’s fellow valets tend to make fun of him, and say he is a “3/10 with no butt,” so seeing a famous movie star swing by work and lay a passionate kiss on him takes them all by surprise. The story of “the actress and the valet” takes the world by storm. Behind the scenes, Olivia at first seems cold and self-obsessed. Naturally, a rom-com where two people change one another irrevocably begins to take shape.
Some of the film’s fish-out-of-water messaging works, while several elements fall flat and feel outdated. He is so poor that he doesn’t know the difference in the cooks of meat! Look, everyone at a restaurant thinks he is a waiter and asks for a refill on their drinks! Antonio is implored that “the less you say the better” from early on in this faux relationship. Stereotyping aside, it all feels a little out of touch at times.
The Valet provides an amusing vehicle for Eugenio Derbez and Samara Weaving that will please rom-com fans. Derailing the movie for a tragically sad moment out of nowhere definitely disrupts the trajectory of the narrative; however, I will give it a pass because it decides not to dwell on this unfortunate scenario for all too long. I laughed a few times at the silliness, and must note that the version I watched had unfinished visual effects which added a comical tone at certain intervals. Less demanding viewers may walk away loving it, while rom-com aficionados have seen this countless times before but should revel in the lightness.
The Valet takes one’s car ticket when it debuts exclusively to Hulu on Friday, May 20th.