The Valet

Film
3 out of 5 stars
DOG'S BREAKFAST Auteuil does damage control.
DOG’S BREAKFAST Auteuil does damage control.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Opening with a car cruising along to a Chuck Berry song, The Valet announces its throwback intentions right away. The latest film from veteran French writer-director Francis Veber features his recurring everyman, Franois Pignon (played this time by Elmaleh), as a Paris valet who gets caught in the background of a paparazzo shot depicting wealthy businessman Pierre (Auteuil) with his supermodel mistress, Elena (Taglioni). Desperately hoping to avoid a messy divorce, Pierre asks Elena to move into Franois’s apartment for a few days, hoping to convince both the media and his suspicious wife that the two are a couple.

Fleshing out this agreeably silly premise with absurd contrivances, stock characters and rat-a-tat punch lines, The Valet aims squarely for old-fashioned farce. Some of the comic ideas fly, as when Franois and Elena find themselves stalked by dueling private investigators. But too much time is wasted on moldy broad comedy, and the grinding gears of the plot are practically audible throughout. Most of The Valet feels as if it could have been made decades ago, but it retains a certain quaint charm; like its hero, this unassuming comedy is nothing special to look at, but too sweet to despise. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Joshua Land

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