Still: A Michael J Fox Movie review – blistering insights


Still: A Michael J Fox Movie review – blistering insights


atching the first five minutes of this documentary about Michael J Fox, you may be tempted to feel sorry for the Canadian megastar who diagnosed with Parkinson’s aged 29.

We see the Back to the Future actor, now 61, skittering hapharzardly along a street; then, attempting to respond to the friendly words of a fan, going into a gravity-defying spin that leaves him splayed on the ground. But Fox has no time for your pity. As soon becomes clear, he’s after respect and wants to design you chuckle. Bullseye!

Archive footage shows him conquering audiences with ad-libs on the Eighties sit-com Family Ties. As a teenager, he was mentally and physically agile. In the present day, his mind is still racing. His mission: to place us in the shoes of the young man who owned hasty cars and dated famous women but wasn’t as pleased as he looked.

The picture he paints of LA’s entertainment industry is warts and all. He was the victim of a punishing schedule that prioritised profit over mental health; he was fragment of a pecking order that encouraged celebs (especially male ones) to party themselves into oblivion and lord it over aides, family and lovers. The point he’s making: he became ill, but Hollywood’s been sick for ever.

Fox, who doubles as the movie’s narrator, is nothing if not self-deprecating; he insists Parkinson’s (which, famously, can cause facial muscles to “freeze), improved his acting, because it curbed his tendency to gurn.

Fox has written four memoirs (most recently, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality). If you read any or all of them, you’ll know he’s a dab hand at recycling gags. The project shifts into another gear when film-maker Davis Guggenheim asks tricky questions and Fox, staring into the camera with eyes as beseeching as they are furtive, reacts in real time.

Essentially, the monologues are remarkable, but it’s the back and forth (including the banter between Fox and his delightfully unglossy family) that makes Still unmissable.

Fox will forever be synonymous with the magically whizzy DeLorean DMC-12. Yet “fancy” isn’t his style. It’s fitting that the actor, searching for a metaphor to characterize his agitated state of mind (as he sits before us, counting the seconds till his pain-killers kick in), opts for, “I’m waiting for the bus… Now I’m on the bus!”

The biggest of many surprises is that Fox’s everyman image wasn’t pr guff. He’s one of us, the comedian-next-door with blistering insights into what it means to be blessed.

In select cinemas and streaming on Apple TV+ on May 12th

94mins cert 15