Still: A Michael J. Fox film takes us into the world of one of the most inspiring stars and looks at his career and Parkinson’s battle.
REASON: An in-depth look at Michael J. Fox’s career and how, many years after his diagnosis with Parkinson’s, he deals with the worsening symptoms of the disease.
REVIEW: For those of us who came of age in the eighties, Michael J. Fox was right up there with Tom Cruise in that he was the movie star many of us looked up to as the cool big brother we always wanted. Today, people may not realize how big he was, as he not only starred in the biggest show on TV (Family ties), but also headlined a number of films that were box office juggernauts. Of course people know that Back to the Future was a phenomenon, but Teen Wolf also made a boatload of cash, and The secret behind my success was one of the highest grossing comedies of the eighties. Back then there was no bigger star.
Of course, we all now know that in his prime Fox developed Parkinson’s disease, an ailment he managed to keep a secret for many years. Since going public with his diagnosis, he has become an inspirational figure to many thanks to his eternal optimism and the fact that, despite worsening symptoms, he has always put himself out there (he recently retired from acting but still do frequent public appearances). Damn, he Curbstone Your enthusiasmhe even milked the condition for laughs, which very few people would have the courage to do.
STILL: A Michael J. Fox movie is the latest documentary from Davis Guggenheim who made An inconvenient truth, Waiting for Superman, He called me Malala and many more breakout documentary hits. He specializes in stories to inspire and STILL is no exception. Fox is an open book here, allowing Guggenheim to describe the ever-worsening effects of his condition. We’ve never seen Fox like this, as when he’s done movies and TV (and interviews), he’s been on medication that helps control the symptoms to some extent. Here he gives us the opportunity to see how bad it can be.
But what’s inspiring about the film is Fox’s relentless optimism and good humor. If you have read his book, Lucky man, you will know that there is not an ounce of self-pity in the man. Over the course of the film, we see him sustain several serious injuries related to his condition, two of which require pins to be inserted into his face and hands. We see him working with occupational therapists as he tries to manage his symptoms, and his brave spirit is contagious. Through it all, Fox considers himself lucky to have a loving relationship with his devoted wife (and former co-star) Tracy Pollan and loves his children.
Guggenheim uses a wide range of footage from Fox’s career to dramatize his rise in Hollywood, delving into his lean years as a teenage actor to his eventual breakthrough on Family ties. The now legendary stories of Fox shooting Back to the Future and Family ties at the same time for three months is reported here. But Fox also opens up about his battle with alcoholism, admitting that his symptoms began after a particularly rough night of partying on the set of Doc Hollywood. He also acknowledges how bad some of his films from the mid-nineties were and reveals various sequences from the films that show him trying to hide his symptoms. His comeback has solidified with Spin Citybut footage from the show illustrates how he couldn’t keep his condition a secret.
If you have read Lucky man, many of these stories will be familiar, but there’s something extra compelling about watching Fox tell the various anecdotes. He lets us in and presents us with the brutal reality of his condition, but he never evokes pity – only admiration. Suffice it to say; this should be a crowd pleaser for Apple Films, who are set to release this film for streaming. If you’re a fan of Fox’s or feel like you just need a little motivation from a guy who’s seen his share of adversity, this is the doctor for you.