When I go to a French comedy, I'm never quite sure what I'm getting into. There's very little middle ground for me with that particular sub-genre of film -- either I really like it or the humor completely eludes me and I don't get it. The Valet, which had one screening here at AFI Dallas, was fortunately one of the former. This is one of the most crowd-pleasing French comedies I've seen since I saw OSS-117: Nest of Spies at last year's Seattle International Film Festival.
The Valet tells the tale of François Pignon (Gad Elmaleh), a sad-sack parking valet who shares his small, crummy apartment with his best friend, Richard (Dany Boon). Parking cars for a living isn't the type of job that lands you a lot of hot babes in Paris, and the two friends support each other in their mutual misery. Francois is not without hope, however. He's long been in love with childhood friend Emilie (Virginie Ledoyen), a fresh-faced intellectual who owns a tiny bookstore. Emilie's father is his father's doctor, and they've all known each other forever. Francois decides to propose to the girl of his dreams -- he pays for a ring on layaway for a year, and then he's ready.