Review by Camden Ferrell
Immortalized on screen as Marty McFly and Alex P. Keaton among other major roles, Michael J. Fox is one of the most beloved icons of the 80’s and beyond. At this point, it’s widely known that he has been dealing with Parkinson’s disease for many years now. While he is not defined by his illness, his new documentary does a great job of analyzing his rise to stardom and the effect that Parkinson has had on him throughout his life. From documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie had its premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Utilizing a vast array of film footage, recreations, and great interviews, this is one of the most impressive recent documentaries, one that highlights the triumphs and tribulations of a beloved actor.
In this movie, we get to learn about Fox and how he rose to prominence decades ago. While many of us are familiar with the classic roles he embodied, it seems that his journey as an actor is one that isn’t as widely known. It’s a rather comprehensive look at the actor’s career, and it’s one that is concise and quite candid. In addition to learning about his acting career, we also get to learn more about Parkinson’s and the small ways it started affecting his life more over time. This is a story that many will enjoy if not for Fox, then at least for how vulnerable, human, and relatable his story can be.
I firmly believe that a documentary can’t just succeed on the viability of its premise. It needs to be engaging and tell a cohesive story for the audience to latch onto. This film is a perfect showcase of how to achieve this effectively. From the start, Guggenheim is dedicated to telling a story that abides by the fundamentals of narrative structure. It doesn’t try to be flashy or ambitious with its structure. It’s merely focused on telling a simple story of one actor’s journey through fame. This is an endlessly entertaining and endearing film that knows that narrative is paramount to its success.
Not surprising in the slightest, Fox is an absolute joy to watch whether it’s in one of his many performances or if it’s just him speaking to the camera. He has a very affable quality that appeals to viewers and feels genuine. He speaks with such wit, humor, and heart, and it’s impossible not to admire him more the way he views life and confronts his Parkinson’s. This, accompanied with the extensive and entertaining film footage, makes this film even more engaging than it already was.
Guggenheim constructs his narrative simply but is creative in the ways he tells it. He uses an impeccable combination of archive footage, film scenes, shockingly accurate recreations, and great interviews. All these elements are balanced beautifully to help tell its story in the best way possible. At roughly ninety minutes, this a movie that never overstays its welcome and will transfix you from beginning to end. It doesn’t tear down Fox or deify him, but it allows viewers to see him in his most vulnerable, human, and heartwarming state.
Fans of Fox and film lovers in general will find something to admire about Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie. It’s a gorgeous tribute to Fox and all he has accomplished and continues to accomplish. This is a documentary done right. It honors its subject and is a concise and comprehensive story that connects to its viewers effortlessly. It’s the year’s best documentary, and one of its best movies period.
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie streams on Apple TV+ on May 12.