For a good many years the phrase straight-to-DVD was often a telltale sign of sub-par movie quality, but with the rapidly evolving landscape of home media, this stigma is now lifted. Please Stand By falls somewhere in between, as a film subject to a very limited run in US theatres last year, raking in only $10,778 domestically. Now available on DVD from Umbrella Entertainment, this uplifting light-drama follows a young autistic woman who runs away from her group home in Oakland, California to submit her manuscript for a “Star Trek” writing competition in Los Angeles.
Having been accustomed to Star Trek for only three years, I understand why those who many who have autism like our heroine or suffer from social anxiety gravitate towards the fictional universe and empathise with its characters. Our protagonist Wendy (Dakota Fanning), an exceptionally bright woman, presents parallels to Spock, the half Vulcan, half human who struggle with his emotions. Wendy’s journey from routine life, much like that aboard Enterprise, to the unpredictable nature of her trek to L.A. enables her to grow; fuelling her hope of being stable enough to live with her older sister and niece. While the Star Trek motif is an obvious presence throughout the film, it’s used appropriately and at opportune times to convey the in indiscriminative bond that comes from being a “Trekkie”. Patton Oswalt as a Klingon-speaking police officer is by far one the film’s biggest highlights and examples of this. Performances all around from the relatively small cast are quite strong. Dakota Fanning is very convincing and at times funny as Wendy, while Toni Collette is terrific as always in the supporting role as Wendy’s caregiver, Scottie. Alice Eve (Star Trek into Darkness connection) as our protagonist’s emotionally distraught sister, Audrey, delivers a performance I think those in her situation will find especially relatable.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
DVD may no longer be the most desired format, but it remains highly versatile and viable, with the quality of this particular release holding its own against high definition. Vibrant colours are balanced and come through nicely on the NTSC formatted disc with 5.1 Dolby Digital. Other technical specs include 2.35:1 widescreen and region 4 encoding.
Now that it’s more widely available, I hope Please Stand By is able to reach a greater audience as the film is an overall enriching experience, looking at our most endearing qualities.
PLEASE STAND BY
(2017, dir: Ben Lewin)