The French like Jerry Lewis. That's the best way to explain the presence of some standard issue pratfalls in Francois Veber's new comedy, The Valet . He has the I-crashed-my-car-while-watching-a-pretty-girl sight gag and of course, the I-lit-the-customer's-hair-on-fire slip-up while the waiter is distracted by the same megababe.

Veber, a French writer/director living in Los Angeles, is deft at light comedy. He has sold 18 screenplays, the most famous of which are La Cage aux Folles and The Tall Blonde Man with One Black Shoe .

This particular comedy, done in French with English subtitles, is the third he has directed featuring the same workingman character Francois Pignon (though he has changed the actor who plays his hero). In this film, a high-powered factory owner (Daniel Autoeuil) has a mistress (Alice Taglioni), a famous fashion model he has been stringing along with the promise he'll divorce his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas).

To convince his wife he's not having an affair with the model, he pairs the hapless Pignon (Gad Elmaleh), a parking lot valet, with his mistress in an attempt to fool his wife, who isn't fooled at all. Pignon, however, is pining away for a plain but sincere young lady who has turned down his proposal.

When the executive approaches him with his offer, he agrees to the charade only to get enough money so he can return to his true love and revive her failing bookstore. Of course, he doesn't tell the young lady of this arrangement, which leads to her befuddlement as the young man she spurned is now seen everywhere in the company of a supermodel.

Gad Elmaleh does a decent job as Pignon. Especially when you find out that in a previous Veber film, Gerard Depardieu played the hapless little guy.

You'd probably enjoy this movie a lot more if you could speak French. C'est la vie!

Grade: B