Title: Still: A Michael J Fox Story (2023) Director: Davis Guggenheim Writer: Michael J Fox Studio: Concordia Studio // Apple Original Films IMDb Plot: Follows the life of beloved actor and advocate Michael J. Fox, exploring his personal and professional triumphs and travails, and what happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease. Joe Says: Still is a magnificent story of inspiration, vulnerability, and kick-ass determination. This is not a Hollywood tell-all tale of woe. Still is a celebration.
Watching Still: A Michael J Fox Story can be disconcerting at first. If you grew up in the 80s, the only thing higher on the pop-culture charts than Selleck’s mustache was Michael J Fox’s charming smile. And it was everywhere, too. From Family Ties to Back to the Future to Teen Wolf to Doc Hollywood. He was smooth. He was witty. An all-encompassing joi de vive packed into five-feet-four-inches of energy.
Now, after 30 years of battling the crippling effects of Parkinson’s Disease, Michael is bent over. His arms jitter; legs wobble. His speech is slurred. This is not a vibrant Marty McFly at 62. The sight of an unshaven, unkempt Fox is more than a little disheartening. But Still was not made out of pity. This is not a Hollywood tell-all tale of woe. Still is a celebration. Michael remains funny, he is loved, and although known for comedy, is now a determined fighter.
Still is a magnificent story of inspiration, vulnerability, and kick-ass determination. This one deserves to be seen.
Directed by Davis Guggenheim (Inside Bill’s Brain) and based on material from Fox’s autobiographies, Still beautifully captures and recreates elements of Fox’s life interwoven with Forrest Gump-like dexterity into cinematic scenes of the past. An ersatz Michael (including Zachary Coumont, Danny Irizarry, and others) frantically jumps from recreated sets of a slummy efficiency cutting into scenes with the Real Deal at the Keaton household, to the driver’s seat of the Delorean, and back. Fox always was a flurry of energy.
From being the smallest player on the hockey team to his breakout role as the larger-than-life Alex P. Keaton, Fox is honest – and accepting – of his past. The oversaturation of his popularity; his alcoholism; his Parkinson’s – matters that were once taboo have been squashed with sincerity. Guggenheim holds his interviews with Fox directly answering to the camera. Perhaps for comfort. Maybe in order to give Fox ease with the motion of his body. Fox is accepting, even wanting, that spotlight. Older. Tired. Hurting. Michael J Fox’s body still fills the room.
Disease aside, what grounds Fox, what makes this mightiest of cinema gods as human as a teenager, is the love and support of his family. Particularly his wife, Tracy Pollan, with whom he has been married 35 years. Their relationship continues to thrive. Neither, it seems, wants that to change.
During the docu, Fox openly visits doctors and attends PT sessions. He falls. He is hurt. Dismay abounds – but it does not overcome. He continues to smile. Fox bristles with energy. And there is no way this damned disease will deter him. After all, he has yet to remain still.
A version of this review is available at Cinefied.com