While we are seeing an increase in movies (Joyful Noise, Jane Wants A Boyfriend) and television shows (The Good Doctor, Atypical, A-Word) on autism some may say that Please Stand By may play it a bit safe at times in terms of expanding the scope of what we’ve already seen of autism on screen.
This does not mean you won’t still have a great time watching this heartfelt film.
Please Stand By (currently out in limited release, Amazon Video, iTunes & OnDemand) looks at Wendy, a young woman on the autism spectrum (played by Dakota Fanning) who escapes a group home to travel to Hollywood to enter her Star Trek script in a competition. Wendy has many characteristics that have been shown before on screen such as difficulties with eye contact, not liking to be touched, speaking in a monotone voice, among others.
Fanning does a fine job in the role although sometimes has an inconsistency with some of her characteristics. The one that stuck out to me was her eye contact that came and went countless times throughout the film.
A big takeaway for me was what I learned before even watching the film hearing that the film worked with several people on the spectrum. A big movement going on right now is with hiring people with disabilities both behind the camera and on-screen. Several actors from The Miracle Project for example live in the group home with Wendy.
Another takeaway was that the main protagonist was a woman on the spectrum. Most projects revolve around a male protagonist making it difficult at times to spread awareness of girls on the spectrum. While there are still limited films on girls and autism today a few years ago I had a great opportunity to consult on a film called Jane Wants A Boyfriend that looks at a woman with autism trying to find love in New York City.
For any siblings of someone on the spectrum who may read this review, I’d be curious to hear what you think of Wendy’s sister (played by Alice Eve) portrayal and overall character.
Overall, Please Stand By will make you laugh, cry and warm your heart while undoubtedly being relatable with countless families both within and outside of our autism community. One of my hopes for the future of autism-related films is that we dig deeper into the quirks and challenges currently facing many on the spectrum.
Growing up with autism I often wondered what my future would look like. What made me connect with Wendy more then anything was our key interests. I couldn’t help but smile seeing her follow her passions with Star Trek. I hope to do the same with my passions for years to come as a professional speaker, author and autism entertainment consultant.