Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
May 12th, 2023
MOVIE: STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE
STARRING: MICHAEL J. FOX, TRACY POLLAN
DIRECTED BY: DAVIS GUGGENHEIM
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
We remember Michael J. Fox the actor. The image that we have of him in Back to the Future or Teen Wolf, that’s a much different person than who he is now, but what never changes is his incredible fighting spirit. Director Davis Guggenheim– with the blessing of Fox– has invited us into the home of the legendary actor, and shown us exactly how strong he is. The fact that Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 1991 is the real proof that he’s not just fighting this disease, he’s kicking its ass. What we see in Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie is that it takes incredible resilience and a great support system. This is Michael J. Fox now. Still charming and never quitting. There is nobody else like him.
The structure of Still is what separates it from most documentary films. The only talking head in this is Fox. He narrates his own stories and answers questions directly from Guggenheim. The director also uses Fox’s films, reenactments, and archived footage matching the actor’s life story. It is done in such a seamless fashion it is hard to not feel like you’re seeing Fox in his actual moments. He speaks about his upbringing in Canada, his difficult transition to Hollywood, living in a small one-bedroom apartment, and selling his furniture to make ends meet, until he hits it big on Family Ties. To hear that Fox had to struggle to become the acting star that he is seems like a false reality. What it actually becomes is a precursor to predicting just how relentless he is. Michael J. Fox is not a quitter and as the documentary shows us, he was on the move from the beginning.
As the documentary progresses deeper into Fox’s life, it feels like reliving the heartbreak of the diagnosis, and it is revealing just how hard his struggle is. We can see his jittery movements and his walking that has become much harder to do. Throughout the filming, Fox speaks about accidents he’s had, hard falls resulting in a broken cheekbone, separated shoulders, pins in his hands, and a broken arm. It is the little things that we take for granted that Fox struggles with, and yet, throughout the doc, in the conversations, Fox never loses his spirit. He often cracks jokes. Will be quick to dismiss a moment and move on. He’s always on the move.
The really important part of Still is when we get to witness time with his family. There could be an entirely separate documentary on Fox’s relationship with his wife Tracy Pollan. She deserves just as much credit for his resilience and just as much credit for forgoing her own dreams to take care of him and their children. And Guggenheim does not sugarcoat their relationship. Tracy was from the jump someone that would not put up with Michael’s wisecracks or cocky attitude. She is a person that means business in love and life. Still gives us a glimpse of how the family dynamics work and to witness that is to see true moments of unconditional love.
From a documentary standpoint, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie is excellent, an emotional production that left me with tears in my eyes. Guggenheim flexes both muscles in telling a profile on someone and using his directorial skills. It’s one of the best documentaries of 2023. The merging of Fox’s films into the story is miraculous. It becomes this perfect blend of an actor’s life as someone we experience on the screen and what is happening in his real life. That works because Michael J. Fox has been a part of so many of our lives. He was Marty McFly. He was Mike Flaherty on Spin City. He was Scott Howard the Teen Wolf. He was Alex P. Keaton. Above all, he is Still Michael J. Fox. Nothing will slow him down. Take that Parkinson’s.
STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ON APPLETV+ AND TO RENT ON DEMAND.
Written by: Leo Brady