Plus One

Ben (Jack Quaid) and Alice (Maya Erskine), friends since college, are at that age where all of their friends are getting married. With the summer wedding calendar filling up, they hatch a plane to face the nuptial season as each other’s “Plus One.”

Laura's Review: B-

Cowriter/directors Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer, both writers on star Maya Erskine's TV show 'PEN15,' follow the romcom template meticulously with their wedding centric "When Harry Met Sally" mashup. Nothing that happens will surprise you, but how it happens just might. The appealingly down-to-earth Jack Quaid as Ben and the raunchier and offbeat Erskine as Alice share a rare type of best friend shorthand that makes them fun to be around. As they support each other through romantic foibles, we see their romantic possibility before they do (as do Ben's parents). This little indie may follow a traditional outline, but it does so with admirable authenticity. Grade:

Robin's Review: B

As I thought about “Please Stand By,” it occurred to me that the film’s star appeared in another film about a mentally challenged adult, “I Am Sam (2001),” with Sean Penn. What does that have to do with the new film by Ben Lewin? Nothing, really, but it is an interesting factoid. Wendy, with Scottie’s help, goes through her daily rituals – walking her dog, Pete; preparing for her work day; making the journey to her job at Cinnabon (never, under any circumstances, cross Market Street). She handles it pretty well and hopes that she can prove herself to her older sister, Audrey (Alice Eve) that she is stable enough to come home. Audrey, though, has a new baby and is worried what Wendy might do. This dilemma and the Star Trek script contest are the catalyst for Wendy to prove that she can be trusted. She finishes her S.T. script (nearly 500 pages of it) and begins her quest to deliver her story to Paramount in LA. Wendy lives in San Francisco and cannot cross Market, so there is an immediate conflict for her. The story is about how she overcomes this and every obstacle to fulfill her mission. Dakota Fanning does a superior job portraying functional autism and her story, or “trek,” parallels the story she tells in her script – centering on half-human/half-alien Spock and his captain, Kirk. Wendy is Spock, at least in her mind, and she uses his logic and intelligence to inspire her to do what she sets out to do. Of course, Wendy’s disappearance triggers Scottie into action as she sets out, with her son, Sam (River Alexander), in tow, but not before she calls Audrey, to find her ward. This call pushes Audrey to begin her own search for her missing sister. These three roads – Wendy’s, Scottie’s and Audrey’s, all heading to LA – will, of course, converge in what one hopes will be the expected happy ending. Director Ben Lewin does not take the easy, glib path that the story could have gone down. Instead, Wendy’s personal journey garners the viewer’s sympathy, and often empathy, for the young woman and her quest. Of course, the script by Michael Galamco has her meeting good people, bad people, selfish people and those who are generous and kind but they are all a part of Wendy’s metamorphosis. Road movies are pretty common but “Please Stand By” makes the genre its own as we root for Wendy ever step of her way. What could be overly sentimental is fresh and grounded in a believable character that has a dream.