Please Stand By (2017)

  • Time: 93 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama
  • Director: Ben Lewin
  • Cast: Dakota Fanning, Helen Hunt, Alice Eve


A young autistic woman runs away from her caregiver in an attempt to submit her manuscript to a “Star Trek” writing competition.

One review

  • In Please Stand By, Dakota Fanning plays Wendy, a young woman on the autism spectrum who is also a Star Trek aficionado. She lives in a group home run by a psychologist felicitously named Scottie (Toni Collette), who trains her to hold eye contact for more than three seconds and adhere to a routine that helps to maintain her equilibrium. This includes wearing specifically coloured clothes (orange on Mondays, lavender on Tuesdays, blue on Wednesdays, etc.), follow the same path to the bus stop where she will take the bus so she can get to her job working at a Cinnabon, walking her dog Pete in the afternoon, and watching reruns of Star Trek on the TV Land network at night.

    When Paramount Pictures announces a screenplay contest to commemorate the show’s 50th anniversary, Wendy sees it as a perfect opportunity not only to celebrate her favourite show but to use the $100,000 prize to buy back her childhood home and move back in with her older sister Audrey (Alice Eve). When she announces this to Audrey during a visit, Audrey is stricken – yes, Wendy has made progress, but she can’t trust her sister, who’s had a history of violent tantrums, around her baby. Wendy’s stress is further compounded when she realises that she’s missed the post office deadline to submit her 450-page screenplay. Yet she resolves to make her way to Paramount Pictures and so she sneaks out of the home with Pete and embarking on a life-changing journey.

    Though her trek, pardon the pun, is fraught with dangers both major and minor, there is never any sense that Wendy will get through it all anything but unharmed. If anything, her encounters with various strangers feel almost incidental, all of them acting more as a deus ex machina than actual multi-dimensional characters. Which is a shame, especially since the characters played by Marla Gibbs, a retirement-village resident who befriends her, and Patton Oswalt, a cop who gains her trust by speaking Klingon, are interesting in their own right and merit more screen time.

    Yet, for all its stereotypical offbeat quirks and too-pat plotting, one can’t be too grudging against Please Stand By. It’s harmless and pleasing with reliable support from Collette and Eve, an affecting lead performance from Johnson, and one of the most adorable and expressive dogs in recent memory.

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