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Film / Please Stand By

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Please Stand By is a 2017 dramedy film directed by Ben Lewin.

Wendy Welcott (Dakota Fanning), a young autistic woman living in a group home in Oakland, has written a 427-page Star Trek script, which she plans to enter in a Paramount screenwriting contest with a $100,000 prize.

After she misses the mail-in date, she runs away from the group home and travels to Los Angeles to deliver the script herself.

Please Stand By contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Alice Eve previously played Kelvin timeline Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness.
  • Alliterative Name: Wendy Welcott.
  • And Starring: Alice Eve gets this citation in the opening billboards.
  • As Himself: Wendy's four housemates are all played by autistic actors with the same names as their characters.
  • Bathroom Breakout: Wendy escapes from the hospital by going into a bathroom, opening the window, and then hiding under the sink so the nurse will think she jumped. Once the bathroom is unguarded, she escapes through a door.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • To escape the hospital, Wendy outwits the nurse by making it look like she escaped through the window by opening it and then hiding in the sink. Once the nurse leaves, she picks up her things.
    • When a clerk at Paramount stonewalls her, Wendy asks him if he knows her name. Once he said no, she drops her script and promptly leaves.
  • Billed Above the Title: Dakota Fanning and Toni Collette get this treatment.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Wendy ultimately does not win the contest, but she's proud of her personal growth during the ordeal and she finally meets her niece at the end.
  • Canine Companion: The group home's dog, Pete, follows Wendy for several blocks after she leaves. She decides to carry him to L.A. in her bag.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Wendy being a Star Trek fan is integral to the movie's plot, yet she doesn't seem to notice that her elder sister Audrey (Alice Eve) looks like Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness.
  • Closet Geek: A cop played by Patton Oswalt speaks Klingon to Wendy to get her to turn herself in. When his partner asks him what language he was speaking, he tries to avoid the question and tells her to forget about it.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Wendy wears different, particularly colored/designed sweaters everyday; Orange on Mondays, Lavender on Tuesdays, Blue on Wednesdays, Polka dots on Thursdays, Yellow on Fridays, Purple on Saturdays, and Red on Sundays.
  • Disappeared Dad: Wendy's mother raised her and her sister all by herself.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Pete growls at a couple right before they rob Wendy.
  • Fakeout Escape: Wendy escapes from a hospital by going into a bathroom, opening a window, and hiding under a sink so the nurse will think she jumped. Once the bathroom is unguarded, she leaves through the door.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Wendy's support worker Scottie (Toni Collette).
  • Hollywood Autism: Averted! Dakota Fanning specifically met with many different autistic people and studied the condition in great detail; confessing in an interview that she learned about the many misconceptions about it, and realised the best option was to focus on making Wendy a specific individual rather than a symbolic representation of everyone with autism. And despite having poor social skills and living in a facility, as well as having certain meltdowns, she still has a job and aspires to be a writer. There are also other autistic people living in the home, with distinct differences to further emphasise the variations that can happen with the condition. And rather than being stereotypically obsessed with math and science, Wendy is a Star Trek nerd; acknowledging the significant neurodivergent fan base the franchise has. There's also the fact that Wendy is only in the home because Audrey is ignorant of how to properly care for her, when their mother had been able to previously.
  • Implied Love Interest: There are strong hints that Nemo (Tony Revolori) has a thing for Wendy but this aspect is not touched upon nor is it outright confirmed.
  • Jerkass: The bus driver who kicks a young autistic woman off the bus and strands her on the side of the road because she brought a dog on board.
  • Nerds Speak Klingon: Wendy, naturally, is adept at the language. Later in the film, Officer Frank (Patton Oswalt) is able to gain Wendy's trust by speaking to her this way.
  • Outlaw Couple: Wendy runs into them after being kicked out off the bus to LA. They robbed her most of her money and her iPad.
  • Plucky Girl: Nothing deters Wendy from going to Paramount studios to submit her script entry.
  • Promotion to Parent: Audrey is Wendy's legal guardian ever since their mother died. She was forced to leave Wendy at a group home after she got married, but she still looks after her.
  • Road Trip Plot: About an autistic young woman from Oakland sneaking out of her home to travel to Los Angeles to personally deliver her script while her elder sister and her guardian follow in search for her.
  • Single Tear: Wendy's older sister Audrey (Alice Eve) sheds one while watching home videos of herself and Wendy, and later when Wendy reminds her that their mother is dead.
  • Soul-Sucking Retail Job: Wendy works at Cinnabon. Her job involves some baking, which she likes, but her main duty is standing at the door with a tray of samples, saying "Welcome to Cinnabon. Would you like a cinnabon?" to everyone who walks by.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Against all odds, Wendy manages to make it to Paramount studios with only minutes to go for the contest deadline. The grumpy mailman won't accept her script because she didn't mail it in, so she has to send it in the chute with the slim possibility that he won't know which one is hers to disqualify it. Even then, she doesn't win the contest. And with a three-hundred page script and her being a first time writer, it's unlikely she would have.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Wendy and Aubrey are respectively played by Farrah MacKenzie and Madeleine Murden in the home videos.
  • Time Travel: Wendy's script has Spock traveling back and forth through time to save the Federation.
  • Title Drop: Several times due to it being Wendy's Survival Mantra.
  • Uncertain Doom: Wendy, her elderly friend and the similarly elderly driver got into a car accident midway through the film. Only Wendy is shown at the hospital, with no mention of what happened to the other two.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Pete the dog follows Wendy when she sneaks out of the home, and she reluctantly decides to take him with her. Too bad the bus she has to take doesn't allow animals on board, and her trying to hide him anyway just results in her being kicked off.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: When Wendy wakes up in the hospital after a bus crash, her first words are "Welcome to Cinnabon. Would you like a cinnabon?"