The Valet is a 2022 Romantic Comedy directed by Richard Wong and written by Bob Fisher and Rob Greenberg. It is a remake of the French film The Valet (2006) by Francis Veber. It stars Eugenio Derbez and Samara Weaving, with Max Greenfield, Betsy Brandt, Marisol Nichols, Amaury Nolasco, Carmen Salinas, Noemi Gonzalez, Armando Hernández, Carlos Santos, Ravi Patel, and John Pirruccello in supporting roles.
Antonio Flores (Derbez) is a humble valet living with his mother Cecilia (Salinas), and separated from his wife, Isabel (Nichols). Meanwhile, actress Olivia Allan (Weaving) is having an affair with city developer and married billionaire Vincent Royce (Greenfield). One night, when Olivia is getting into her Uber with Vincent standing next to her, Antonio crashes his bike into the car. The three are photographed together, sparking rumors of Olivia and Vincent's affair. Fearing he will lose his company if his wife Kathryn divorces him, Vincent comes up with a plan to have Olivia and Antonio pretend to be a couple. Olivia accepts because she wants to avoid any bad publicity before the premiere of her new movie, Earhart, in which she stars as Amelia Earhart. Antonio requests $12,850 to pay off Isabel's debts.
What starts as a purely transactional agreement sparks an unexpected friendship between Antonio and Olivia, who both find themselves enjoying the other's lifestyle. Meanwhile, Royce begins to get paranoid that Olivia and Antonio's pretend relationship may actually have become real, and Isabel begins to get jealous of her ex's apparent newfound love life.
The Valet was released on Hulu on May 20, 2022.
This work contains examples of:
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Cecilia, Antonio's mother, who overshares, has too much interest in his sex life, and generally causes him a lot of embarrassment.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Olivia takes anxiety medication, has spiralling self-worth issues, and her reaction to her affair being possibly exposed is to absolutely freak out. A lot of this seems to be born from the stress of her career and lifestyle, but she mentions her mother being an addict who treated her terribly, leading to Olivia herself testifying against her in court, so there's trauma and issues beyond even that.
- Big Eater: Rudy is constantly snacking and even takes a detour into a drive-thru despite acknowledging that he's in a hurry.
- Bilingual Conversation: Cecilia only speaks Spanish and Mr. Kim only speaks Korean. The only way the two can hold a conversation is for English-speaking relatives to be present so what they're saying can be translated from Spanish to English to Korean and back again.
- Community-Threatening Construction: Vincent's development project near Antonio's neighborhood is seen as this among residents, as they fear a rental price hike that would force most of them out.
- Double Standard: Vincent seems to hold these, as he cheats on his wife with Olivia and disregards her as a "passing fancy" behind her back, he gets violent when he thinks she's with Antonio.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Antonio's is when working as a valet, his boss/brother-in-law spends an extended scene just insulting him (somewhat affectionately) while making remarks of how he'd never be able to get a date; all the while, Antonio never once defends himself or expresses any disagreement with what he says, despite being clearly hurt by it. Does a lot to really illustrate how much a doormat Antonio is.
- Olivia's is when meeting with Vincent, she expresses a deep amount of shame and guilt over the relationship despite being in love with him, regretting that she's sleeping with another woman's husband, and also remarks about what it'd do to her public image if it came out. As she leaves, she's polite to her Uber driver, and when Antonio is injured right near them, she forgets about her public image to make sure he's OK. It immediately peels back her starlet image and shows she's a nice girl who's Nice to the Waiter but stuck in a toxic relationship.
- Extreme Doormat:
- Antonio's biggest vice is he has very low self-worth, not standing up for himself from either friendly teasing to mistreatment from his ex-wife (who, it should be noted, he's so desperate to please and reunite with that he only asks for enough money to pay off her debt). He repeatedly puts himself down, and his Character Development is based around learning to accept he's worth more than he's treated.
- Olivia herself, who has long resided herself to living by the extreme rules needed of her for Hollywood stardom, and to the poor treatment Vincent gives her. She has a bit more of a backbone then Antonio does, but not by much.
- Freak Out: Olivia has a massive one at the beginning when pictures exposing her affair with Vincent make the press.
- Gone Horribly Right: Antonio and Olivia start spending time together as a result of Vincent setting them up for a Fake Relationship scenario to cover for his own infidelity on Kathryn with Olivia. Vincent does get the press off his back, but while their pretend relationship eventually only evolves into an Odd Friendship, Olivia's time with Antonio ends up inspiring her to cut Vincent out of her life.
- Grew a Spine: Antonio and Olivia both have gone through this by the end of the film:
- Antonio realizes that he deserves better than taking everyone's crap and works up the courage to ask Natalia out. This is symbolized by two of the meals he shares with Olivia. In the first, he can only stare wordlessly as she grabs the pickle off of his plate. In the last, he (good naturedly) tells her off when she does the same again and refuses to budge when she insists she's only wants a bite.
- As for Olivia, she ends her toxic relationship with Vincent for good, teaming up with Kathryn to expose him as a cheater and get him arrested for embezzlement.
- Hate Sink: Vincent is a toxic mess who treats both Olivia and his wife Kathryn terribly, and is a classist, slightly racist douchebag. While he cheats on Kathryn with Olivia (and as we learn, Kathryn herself was once a mistress and he's a serial cheater), he becomes extremely, violently paranoid when he thinks Olivia and Antonio are now genuinely together. However despite all the attention he's paying Antonio, he forgets his face very quickly and when he meets him at his job, he doesn't recognise him since he apparently can't tell Hispanic valet drivers apart. Oh, and he's embezzling from his company, too, which he claims he built but actually it's his wife's company that he just rebranded after himself.
- Hidden Depths: Olivia is at first a seemingly typical starlet living the perfect life, but she's desperately lonely and has no real friends. Her family life is non-existent after her mother mistreated her, and she's so desperate for validation she's tolerated Vincent's refusal to leave his wife despite claiming he will for over a year. Much of her motivation in the initial charade is to protect her public image, because that's all she really has.
- Jerkass: Vincent, an adulterer and embezzler with issues of entitlement who treats women like crap.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Olivia is mildly one, but it's mostly just her being coldly professional towards Antonio and the conflicting standards of their lives. She very quickly shows she's a nice person underneath.
- Benny, though he's an overly teasing guy with no qualms about Brutal Honesty, he's genuinely fond of his brother-in-law and even promotes him upon expanding his business. He's also quick to defend Olivia against criticism and seems genuinely fond of her.
- Kavorka Man: Discussed. A pair of models wonder what Olivia sees in Antonio and it's mentioned that physically unattractive men tend to be great lovers with Casanova cited as an example.
- Latino Is Brown: Averted but invoked; Vincent's lawyer, Daniel, is White passing to such an extent that Antonio has no idea he's Latino until late in the movie, when Daniel remarks on his similar background and converses with him in Spanish.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Kapoor and Stegman are living together by the end of the movie and are seen bickering over breakfast.
- Mistaken for Servant: During the party at Olivia's premiere, Antonio is mistaken for a waiter.
- Ms. Fanservice: Olivia, being played by Samara Weaving and being a Hollywood starlet, she gets three underwear scenes (though, only two are played for fanservice), as well as a low-cut dress. Deconstructed slightly, as she remarks on the unhealthy level of dieting necessary to look like that.
- Nice Guy/Nice Girl:
- Both Antonio and Olivia are genuinely nice, selfless people; Olivia at first comes off as rude and calculating and Antonio later shows a prickly side, but both are ultimately kind and go out of their way to help others.
- Kathryn too. She's a little prickly at first but even that is justified given the circumstances, and she doesn't hold any ill-will towards Olivia herself. She's also quick to thank Antonio and helps save the neighbourhood he lives in from gentrification.
- Odd Couple: Essentially the premise. Antonio is a working-class, middle-aged, immigrant single father who works as a valet, while Olivia is a successful and popular, young, and beautiful Hollywood actress. Despite their differing backgrounds, they do quickly become good friends when they get to know one-another.
- Oh, Crap!: Vincent gets a priceless one toward the end when he realizes his wife knows he was cheating on her, is going to take the company from him in the divorce, and also knows enough about his embezzlement of company funds to have the FBI arrest him.
- Parental Sexuality Squick: Cecilia regales Antonio with stories of her lovelife with Mr. Kim and her sex toy preferences. Antonio begs her not to tell him these things but she's undeterred.
- Parent with New Paramour: When everyone think Antonio is dating Olivia, his son is ecstatic at the thought of his father being in a relationship with a world-famous movie star.
- Remarried to the Mistress: Vincent. Kathryn reveals that Vincent cheated on his previous wife with her before getting a divorce and marrying her.
- School Play: Antonio's son is shown performing in a school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- Self-Made Man: Subverted. Vincent talks endlessly about building his business from the ground up. However, it turns out that his father-in-law actually built the business and he just slapped his name over everything.
- Servile Snarker: Daniel, Vincent's lawyer, shows a bit of a sarcastic streak when the two talk about the pictures exposing Vincent and Olivia's affair. When Vincent tells him that he needs him to fix it, Daniel retorts that they could "create a time machine and have [Vincent] make better choices".
- Show Within a Show: Scenes of several of Olivia's films are seen during the movie.
- Those Two Guys:
- Antonio's friends from work, Rudy and Javi, who help him with getting Olivia home safely after she gets drunk, stop for food, and bicker about their order and about the latter's illegal status.
- Kapoor and Stegman, the two private investigators that are hired by Vincent and Kathryn respectively, and turn out to be old friends. At first Kapoor is spying on Stegman, but when Stegman is released from duty Kapoor recruits him to Vincent's side and the two end up spending the rest of the film catching up, and end up becoming roommates.