STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie

STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie

2023, R, 94 min. Directed by Davis Guggenheim.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., May 12, 2023

"Nah, that's boring." That's Michael J. Fox's rebuttal to the idea that he should turn the telling of his life story into a pity party. And "boring" is a word that never applies to STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie, the captivating interview-based biography of the actor and activist, amplified by reenactments and endless stock footage and archival material.

After all, Fox has spent most of his life in front of the camera. He had not one but two massively successful sitcoms (Family Ties and Spin City) while headlining the blockbuster Back to the Future trilogy. And for a decade of his hardworking career, when he was a household name, he was hiding a diagnosis of early onset Parkinson's disease.

In STILL, director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, He Named Me Malala) puts Fox back in front of the camera. Not that, between guest appearances and testimonies on medical research funding before Congress, he's ever been away; but this is still Fox as you may never have seen him. First and foremost, he is someone living with a debilitating disease. When he falls to the sidewalk – collapses is more the word – and gets back up and still has time for a kind word for a passing fan, it's clear that there are no secrets here.

Guggenheim catches how kinetic Fox is, both as a public figure and as a private individual. It's all based on the thesis that he was never still, ever, in his life. How else could he have survived shooting hit sitcom Family Ties in the day and Back to the Future at night for 3 1/2 months? How could he have even made it to the point where he would be asked to balance both roles? After all, he was an undersized kid from Canada who was getting cast as a 12-year-old when he was 16. He became an expert in hiding his symptoms, and those tricks force a reappraisal of so many of his performances. The result is an open, honest, and crystal-clear explanation of what it is like to live with Parkinson's: much of it painful, with no off-ramp. The man who was on the cover of every magazine can now not hold a magazine without a carefully disciplined and scheduled regimen of medication.

All of this raises an interesting question: Why has Fox chosen to do this film, when he's already dedicated so much of his life to Parkinson's awareness? He's done the talk shows, testified before Congress, and written four autobiographies, so what is left to explore? Maybe it's because this is another way to push himself, often into uncomfortable areas. Maybe it's to show the often forgotten costs of broken bone after broken bone, fall after fall, surgery after surgery.

Maybe it's to allow Guggenheim to ask Fox the questions he may never even ask himself, and give the answer that makes the most sense of his entire life. "I'm a tough son of a bitch." No truer words spoken.

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More Davis Guggenheim Films
He Named Me Malala
Doc about the famous champion of girls' eduction, Malala Yousafzai

Marjorie Baumgarten, Oct. 9, 2015

Waiting for 'Superman'
More provocative than genuinely informative, this documentary, nevertheless, has kicked off a national discussion about remedying our failing educational system.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Oct. 15, 2010

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie, Davis Guggenheim

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