STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE
May 12, 2023 / AppleTV+
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Tracy Pollan
Directed By: Davis Guggenheim
The film, which incorporates documentary, archival and scripted elements, recounts Fox’s extraordinary story in his own words — the improbable tale of an undersized kid from a Canadian army base who rose to the heights of stardom in 1980s Hollywood. The account of Fox’s public life, full of nostalgic thrills and cinematic gloss, unspools alongside his never-before-seen private journey, including the years that followed his diagnosis, at 29, with Parkinson’s disease. Intimate and honest, and produced with unprecedented access to Fox and his family, the film chronicles Fox’s personal and professional triumphs and travails, and explores what happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease. With a mix of adventure and romance, comedy and drama, watching the film feels like … well, like a Michael J. Fox movie.
Written By Darren
Rating 4 out of 5
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie is a great look at the career of one of Hollywood’s most revered actors, tracking both his career and personal life and showing the effects his Parkinson's diagnosis had on both.
When Michael J. Fox burst onto the scene back in the 1980s with his starring role on Family Ties and as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy, a star was born. The world knew his name and instantly fell in love with him. However, at the age of thirty just as his career was taking off, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a disease that causes uncontrollable body movements, forever changing the life of him and his family. While showing his life today and his relationship with his family, the film primarily chronicles Fox’s rise to fame and how he coped with his diagnosis, kept it secret, and the freedom that came with sharing his secret with the world.
Even though the film is technically a documentary, it is more of an autobiography as Fox tells his own story. While historical footage of Fox’s media appearances and segments of the films and shows he starred in are displayed to visually tell the story, the dialogue of the film is mainly from Fox himself. There are no interviews with his family and co-stars speaking for him, instead allowing Fox to own his story and tell it with his signature charisma and personality. It is his unwavering optimism that makes this an endearing film, one with an uplifting and hopeful perspective rather than the sad portrayal of his disease that the documentary could have been. Fox is guaranteed to have you laughing throughout as he flexes his unmatchable comedic timing, while the optimism and spirit that he approaches every day with is sure to warm your heart. Never for a second does the film ask you to feel sympathy for Fox; Fox invites the viewers to view his life, success and difficulties from his point of view, providing an honesty that so many films strive to achieve but often fall short of.
The primary focus of the film is Fox’s early years. We see a glimpse of his humble upbringing in Canada, his life as a struggling actor trying to make it in Hollywood, and his initial success with Family Ties and Back to the Future. There is a great exploration of this time in Fox’s life, and even more so when it explores the effect his diagnosis had on him and his family. Never does the film glance over Fox’s struggles, instead showing his somewhat destructive behaviors' that nearly tore his family apart and how he managed to regain control of his life and manage his illness while it was still a secret.
Fast forwarding to today, the film does not sugar coat the struggles that Fox faces performing tasks we all take for granted, but never fails to highlight the resilience and strength of him and his family. Whether it be moments that Fox shares with his family, his physical therapy with his trainer, or the interview sequences themself, Fox’s passion for life and every opportunity he has been granted rings through and defines his story. Despite the fact I would have liked the film to explore Fox’s philanthropic work depper that he has done in the name of Parkinson’s research, the documentary does a wonderful job of allowing Fox to tell his story, on his own terms, while he is still capable to and ensuring his story can continue to inspire.
Defined by Michael J. Fox’s signature optimism that makes this one uplifting and fascinating experience, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie gives Fox the power to tell his life story in his own words that results in a moving documentary that you won’t want to miss.