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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive messages about independence, not treating autistic individuals as helpless, the importance of communication, and the power of pop culture/fandom.
Positive Role Models
Wendy is determined and talented. She's dedicated to her writing and to her love of Star Trek. Scottie is compassionate, caring, and hardworking. Audrey loves Wendy and wants what's best for her.
Violence & Scariness
Wendy is mugged/robbed by an armed man; she isn't physically injured by the encounter, but she's upset and disturbed. A bus accident leaves Wendy unconscious and hospitalized, but she's ultimately fine. Wendy has a couple of emotional outbursts that need to be managed -- one of which scares her sister enough to make her sister cry.
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One use of "f--k," plus a couple of uses of "s--t," "bitches," "damn," "ass," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Cinnabon plays a major role in the movie (it's where Wendy works); the brand is shown several times, as are the buns being made and samples given out to passersby. Other overtly visible brands include Hyundai, Volvo, Re/Max real estate, and Apple (MacBook and iPod).
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Please Stand By is a dramedy starring Dakota Fanning as Wendy, a young woman with autism who loves Star Trek so much that she embarks on a potentially dangerous trip for the chance to win a fan competition. Based on a play by Michael Golamco, the movie has occasional strong language (one "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitches," etc.), and a couple scenes of Wendy having an anxiety attack or having trouble coping with different situations. There's not a lot of violence, but Wendy does get robbed and ends up hospitalized after an accident. Viewers who have autism or have loved ones with autism will know more about whether Fanning's performance -- and the film itself -- are believable representations of individuals on the autism spectrum. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This mostly entertaining tribute to the power of fandom is bolstered by notable performances and should appeal to Star Trek die-hards and anyone who creates or consumes fan fiction. Wendy's encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek trivia, coupled with her determination to submit her manuscript, is enough to make Please Stand By an authentic depiction of a serious fangirl. What seems less certain, however, is how adequate the movie's portrayal of autism is, considering that Wendy checks off a few too many boxes from the clichéd "autism characteristics" checklist. The logic of some of her decisions is particularly confounding, since she values routine above all else and doesn't feel comfortable crossing a major thoroughfare. With that (large) caveat, once you suspend disbelief, it's easy to get sucked into Wendy's adventure and cheer for her to get the manuscript in on time.
As expected in a road trip movie, Wendy meets a few memorable characters along the way -- some who make a negative impact and some who make a positive one. Marla Gibbs pops up as a kind woman who accompanies Wendy to the bus after rescuing her from an unethical convenience store cashier. Collette is delightful as the supportive Scottie, who first utters the titular words to calm Wendy down during an episode of anxiety. Patton Oswalt also makes an appearance as a cop who speaks Klingon and therefore can really communicate with Wendy. Nothing in the plot is especially original, but you can't help but want Wendy to have her victory on behalf of anyone and everyone who's ever loved a TV show, movie, or book to the point of fully immersing themselves in that fictional universe.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Drama Movies That Tug at the Heartstrings
Movies with Characters Who Have Learning and Attention Issues and Developmental Disabilities
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate