Even if you aren’t a big movie fan, odds are you know a bit about Michael J. Fox. Fox was one of the biggest stars on the planet in the 1980s; with a hit TV show and the main role in a mega-franchise, the world was his oyster. But a few years later, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and his life completely changed. He kept acting for a while, but eventually his illness made that less practical and he turned to activism, where his work has generated billions in research.
All of that, most of us know. So, with the new documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) has to cover everything we know in a way that keeps things fresh, while also teaching and showing us more about this hugely famous, fascinating person. On both aims, Guggenheim succeeds.
Still, which recently world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will be available on Apple TV+ later this year, is a unique and lovely piece of filmmaking. For starters, the filmmakers had the full support and cooperation of Fox and his family. So throughout the film, we not only see personal, intimate moments in his life—getting out of bed in the morning, breakfast with the family—but revealing and honest interviews and plenty of footage most people have never seen.
Beyond that, there are also full-on recreations throughout, especially in those really big Hollywood moments where, in reality, cameras weren’t allowed. For example, Guggenheim shows that famous few months in Fox’s life when he was shooting Family Ties during the day and Back to the Future at night with an energetic, exciting behind-the-scenes dramatization that approximates what that must’ve been like. It’s in moments like this that Still beautifully uses nostalgia to its advantage, giving the slick sequences an added dose of emotion. Personally, I watched this segment, set to Alan Silvestri’s score to Back to the Future, through tears, because it was that well done.
And yet, while the sections of the film where Fox was living the high life are great, Still really shines when we see Fox now—when he tells the audience how he feels about his life changing due to Parkinson’s, and the incredibly heroic moments as he goes through all manner of physical therapy that help him be as inspiring and important a person now as he ever was.
On io9, we usually cover science fiction, and Still is not that. It’s real. It’s true. It just so happens to prominently feature one of the best sci-fi films of all time. But, if you’re a Back to the Future fan like we are, we felt it was worth opening your eyes to a heartwarming film that’ll give you an even greater level of respect and adoration for a man who has meant so much to so many.
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie will be on Apple TV+ later this year.
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