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‘Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie’ Review: Best Biographical Film of the Decade

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Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie is a very powerful and emotional biographical documentary. It chronicles the life and struggles of beloved by many actor Michael J. Fox, as he battles with Parkinson’s disease. Directed by Davis Guggenheim, the film offers an intimate and insightful look at the actor’s life, from his early days as a rising star to his ongoing fight against this debilitating illness.

The documentary film is structured around a series of interviews with Fox, as he reflects on his life, his career, and his experiences with Parkinson’s disease. Throughout the film, Fox is open, honest, and vulnerable, sharing his thoughts and feelings about his condition. And also the impact it has had on his life and family. The questions the film asks at the outset are: What happens when an incorrigible optimist has to confront an incurable disease? How person can properly function with this disease? And what does it mean to be Still?

The early life and popularity of Michael J. Fox

From an early age, Michael J. Fox showed an interest in acting and performing, and began taking theater classes in high school. After graduating from high school, his dream was to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

What was really unexpected was the reaction of Fox’s father, who, after a really calm conversation with his son, decided to help him. Instead of telling Michael that he should think about finding a normal job or following in his footsteps, he supported him. Memories of Fox’s father are very positive as he recounts their road trip to Los Angeles, the love that prevailed in their home and the normalcy in his home.

As a budding actor, Fox didn’t have enough money to live at an average level. He had only a small room with one TV, one mattress and a dream to become a star. He began with humble roles on the TV show Leo and Me & Palmerstown, U.S.A. Thanks to them, he earned enough money to survive a little longer in LA. However, a huge breakthrough came in 1982. This was the year that Fox was cast as the now iconic character Alex P. Keaton in the hit sitcom Family Ties.

The program told the story of a family living in an Ohio suburb. It was a much applauded critical and commercial success. Interestingly, the main premise of the program was to focus on the “battle” between Baby Boomers and Generation X. Parents were to be the main focus of the series. But because viewers loved the Fox’s character so much, he became a star of the series.

Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties
Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties (NBC)

Thanks to his outstanding performance, Fox received many awards, which led to him being cast in the film Back to the Future. He was not the first choice, as Robert Zemeckis had already begun shooting with Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly. But after he became really popular, Fox replaced Stoltz, and the rest is history. Zemeckis’ trilogy of time travel films broke box office records, and Michael J. Fox became the most popular actor at the time.

His past is a really important and crucial part of the story. His dedication to following his dreams, doing instead of trying, and showing people what it means to be an actor, perfectly complements the rest of this moving story. The documentary shows Fox’s range and versatility as an actor. It’s a story of legacy and a testament to his skill and determination. Especially after one particular day changed his life forever.

The diagnosis that changed his life forever

One of the most striking aspects of the film is the way it depicts Michael J. Fox’s journey with Parkinson’s disease. The film does not shy away from the physical and emotional toll the disease has taken on Fox. However, the film also highlights his strength and resilience, and that he doesn’t let the disease define or defeat him.

When he was 29, Fox woke up and began to see that his finger was trembling uncontrollably. At first he thought it was the result of his partying with Woody Harrelson last night. He later discovered, it was Parkinson’s disease. It is a disease that most often occurs in people who are over 40 years old. So to be diagnosed at a young age was very upsetting and concerning.

A real help and best friend in his fight against this disease was and is his wife Tracy Pollan. They met on the set of the TV series Family Ties, but began dating after they both starred in the adaptation of Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City novel. When he learned of his diagnosis, they were already married, and like any loving spouse, she supported him. Tracy still treated him the same way and was the same person he fell in love with.

Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan
Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan (credit: Scott Frances, AD)

Fox kept his diagnosis really close to his chest for several years. He even behaved in a very specific way that was supposed to help him hide his left hand tics. After years of hiding the fact, he announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. This news shocked and saddened fans around the world. Fans and celebrities have really helped him talk about the disease and raise public awareness about it.

Another important moment was the day Fox testified before Congress. All to discuss increased funding for Parkinson’s disease research. He also had the full support of sports legend Muhammad Ali, who himself suffered from idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.

The documentary also shows Michael J. Fox’s daily struggles as we see what he has to do to function properly. He continues to be an active advocate of Parkinson’s disease research and a prominent figure in popular culture. Despite his ongoing battle with the disease, Fox remains dedicated to his work as an actor and philanthropist.

Who is Michael J. Fox really?

As Michael himself said, Still is not a good word to describe him. He was never still and was always on the move since he learned how to walk. We can observe his enthusiasm and passion in almost every scene. Even in those we see in modern times. In addition to Fox’s own reflections, we can also learn about him from his former colleagues and those close to him in the form of archival and contemporary footage.

These interviews help to paint a fuller picture of his personality and his impact on those around him. They provide some touching and sometimes humorous moments throughout the film.

The project also showed an unknown dark side of Michael J. Fox’s past by revealing his personal problems and past addictions. But as he recalls, thanks to his loving wife and children, he went more than 30 years without drinking.

Michael J. Fox in Still
Michael J. Fox in Still (Apple TV+)

Fox remains a beloved figure of popular culture and an inspiration to millions of people around the world. His involvement in the search for a cure for Parkinson’s disease and his continued work as an actor and advocate are a testament to his resilience and determination. He is widely regarded as an important and influential figure in the history of modern pop culture.

What I really liked was that this documentary was about Michael J. Fox as a person, not an actor or one of the characters he played. Because of his decision to let him be the narrator of his own story, this documentary is truly touching and moving on so many levels. Those who did not have the opportunity to grow up watching one of Fox’s roles on the screen can easily see what a good actor and person he is. Even in his condition, he can bring smiles to people’s faces and show his inner strength.

Final thoughts on Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

This film is a moving and powerful tribute to one of the most iconic actors of our time. It is a testament to Fox’s resilience, talent and determination. It offers an intimate and insightful look at his journey from his beginnings as a child actor to a star with Parkinson’s disease. 

This is by far one of the best biographical documentaries of the last decade which delves into the life of one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors. Personally, I see it as Michael J. Fox’s legacy to show people that he is still the same person. Of course, the disease has changed him. But he is still Michael J. Fox, an actor who people fell in love with in those many years ago.

And to this day he is still beloved and will continue to be. He has brought smiles to so many, supporting him and other people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, seems like a good way to honor his legacy.

For me, the impact of this documentary is huge. We don’t know If and when we will become seriously ill or diagnosed with a terrible disease. But thanks to films like this one, we see that we can find the inner strength to fight and that we are the ones in control. Do not let the disease define you. We must overcome and live our lives as best we can, adapting to the situation we are in.

My rating for this movie:

★★★★½/ ♥♥♥♥♥

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie releases on Apple TV+ on May 12 . Are you planning on watching it? Let us know on Twitter or in the Cosmic Circus Discord!

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Wiktor Reinfuss

Big fan of all sorts of pop culture stuff. I also enjoy ambitious cinema. Games, music and graphics are all within my interests. I have a great fondness for the Arrowverse series, especially The Flash.

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