Movie Review: Please Stand By

I saw a trailer for Please Stand By in early spring. My local library system had a copy, so I reserved it. A couple of months passed, but I love having my tax dollars work for me. We recently watched the film.

Premise: a young woman who writes Star Trek fanfic wants to enter her script in a contest. Oh, and the woman is autistic.

What’s not to love?

I really liked the movie. TV Stevie said it “had potential, but turned into a message movie.” He doesn’t like message movies. But all stories have messages. I like movies for story. Mr. “I Was a Cinema Major in College” has other things he looks for in a movie.  And that’s fair. But this movie wasn’t about those other things: texture, camera angles, and who the heck knows what esoteric other stuff. It was a story about a woman who had a goal, and despite all the circumstances against her, succeeds.

When a heroine doesn’t fit male-defined roles, men have trouble understanding them. Take The Florida Project. The women were variations on stereotypes: Madonnas and whores. Well received. Great reviews. But the females in the movie never stepped out of male-defined boxes.

Wendy, the heroine of Please Stand By doesn’t fit in a box.  I think that’s why men don’t “get” the movie.  One (male) reviewer even went so far as to write:  “it has a circumspect, sanitized quality, as if meant to be shown in group homes without causing undue upset.” Another man wrote: “Touches the viewer with the subtle emotional wallop of a feather brushing against the heart.”

A lot of professional female reviewers panned the movie, too.  It was generally thought too bland. I guess we know which reviewers are ignorant of autism.

Just because a movie isn’t about shedding blood or blowing up things doesn’t make it a bad movie. Exploring “women’s” issues–family, relationships, etc. doesn’t make a movie a bad. Lack of violence shouldn’t be a touchstone, but in today’s world, it seems to have become one.

There were many subtle parallel layers in the film. At least one was “mansplained.”

To me, the important thing was that Wendy had a goal and nothing was going to stop her from submitting that script to that contest. Her determination is what kept her going, despite the world conspiring to prevent her from achieving what she wanted.

That’s an important lesson for anyone to learn.