The Valet

"Weak"

The Valet Review


After a lifetime of carefully calibrating small-idea comedies, French director Francis Veber hits his biggest movie to date. Already planned to be remade in America by the Farrelly brothers and Veber himself, The Valet marks the first time where Veber's deft skills at wild-eyed slapstick and quick-witted jabs have failed him in his endless fascination with the comedy of manners.

It all starts with a poor valet named Francois Pignon (Gad Elmalah), who wants to be the knight-in-shining-armor to his longtime friend and crush Emile (Virginie Ledoyen). Emile needs money to keep open her quaint little bookshop, money that Francois is sadly without. Enter Mr. Levasseur (the great Daniel Auteuil), a philandering corporate dud, and Elena (stunner Alice Taglioni), his model girlfriend, who get photographed together by accident, with Pignon right next to them. The scheme gets thick: The businessman will stake the dough for Emile's store if Francois pretends to be the model's lowly boyfriend. The tent for the media circus is quickly erected as Christine (Kristen Scott Thomas), the businessman's loaded wife, mounts her own investigation into the validity of the relationship.

The Valet has enough madcap moments to be deemed enjoyable. It's a kick to watch Auteuil get all zany after his stark, riveting performance in Michael Haneke's Cache, especially when he starts to think his girlfriend and Francois are actually carrying on together. There's also Richard (Dany Boon), Francois' dolt of a roommate who is panicked over the prospect of living with his mom. Whether reacting to a bevy of models hitting on Pignon or being stunned by the knockout Elena, Boon has the rare talent to be able to keep you in stitches without saying a word.

The continuing adventures of the dimwit Pignon (Auteuil played him in Veber's superb The Closet and Jacques Villeret played him in Veber's 1998 romp The Dinner Game) are of interest, but there's a severe lack of concentration in this follow-up. Where his previous films' seemed completely in control of their story and characters, Veber's latest seems to be the first in line to fall for all the tricks and guffaws that it sets up for the audience. The laughs don't come out tumbling out but are approached with knee protectors, helmets, and back braces to make super-duper sure we don't miss the joke. If you listen closely enough, you can hear the "Laugh Now" box lighting up.

Veber has always been a screenwriter who just happened to also direct his own material, and that's what makes The Valet's leaky structure so surprising. The Closet was built like an impenetrable laugh machine, goals mapped expertly with slippery wrenches thrown in the system's gears at just the right moments. Here, the conflict is about as flimsy as the wrinkled ten-dollar bill you used to pay for your ticket, and the characters seem just as confused by their surroundings and actions as we are. We depend on actors like Auteuil and Boon because we know we can count on them for a good laugh. There was a time when you could depend on Veber for the very same thing.

Aka La Doublure.

Fountains of humor.



The Valet

Facts and Figures

Run time: 85 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 29th March 2006

Box Office USA: $2.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $29.3M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Gaumont, EFVE, TF1 Films Production, Kairos

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Fresh: 57 Rotten: 25

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as François Pignon, Alice Taglioni as Elena Simonsen, as Pierre Levasseur, as Christine Levasseur, as Maître Foix, as Emilie, as Richard

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.