Sundance Review: STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie Shares the Actor’s Triumphs, Struggles and Sense of Humor

My only significant complaint about director Davis Guggenheim’s (An Inconvenient Truth, He Named Me Malala) Michael J. Fox documentary STILL is that it isn’t long enough. The film spends ample time going through the early years of Fox’s career as an undersized Canadian army brat who landed on a hit television series at age 16 (playing a 12 year old), who moved into a studio apartment in Beverly Hills to kickstart his acting career. On the verge of heading back to Canada, Fox gets cast as young Republican Alex P. Keaton on the sitcom “Family Ties,” and the rest is history. Or more specifically, the rest took him Back to the Future (three times, in fact), and a superstar was born, one who dominated the industry for most of the 1980s and into the ’90s.

A great deal of watching STILL is holding your breath, waiting for Fox’s life to make it to age 29, when he was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease—as he describes it, an “old person’s disease”—and the next few years he spent attempting to hide from the cameras and the world the early impact it was having on his body. Using a new interview with Fox to guide us through his story, as well as clips from basically everything he’s ever made to illustrate various events in his life, the film is a sometimes playful, sometimes emotional account that rarely gets maudlin or feels like an attempt to have the world feel sorry for him. Fox’s life is a constant reminder of how lucky he is to have a supportive wife and children (all of whom are featured quite prominently), and still be a figure popular enough to create a foundation that has raised more than a billion dollars for Parkinson’s research. 

There are moments in the film you might feel like you’re about the cry, but then Fox cracks a joke at his own expense or unleashes a bit of wisdom, and you just lose yourself in being fortunate enough to spend time with this man being as candid about his struggles as anyone can be. His physical therapy sessions are grueling, but they seem safer than simply walking down the street or around his house (he suffered several injuries of varying degrees during filming, some of which the cameras catch). STILL is an exercise in Fox taking the reins on his own story, and I wish I could have heard more, especially about how he still sometimes acts in guest shots on various television series. After so many years in the industry, I suppose Fox has learned how to leave his audience wanting more.

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Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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