The way director Davis Guggenheim has seamlessly overlapped reenactments with archive footage and new film and interviews to tell Fox's remarkable story adds up to a uniquely engrossing documentary.
The opening sequence of Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie reenacts a story, set to Fox's own voiceover, of the first time the actor noticed a vibration in his pinky, waking up hungover in a Florida hotel in 1990. Shot and narrated to elicit maximum suspense, the attention-grabbing scene quickly transitions to Fox in bed at his home today, struggling against the constant tremors of Parkinson's to get out of bed and brush his teeth.
Cut to a noticeably aged but irrepressibly roguish Fox in a bright white room being interviewed on camera by Guggenheim. The montage technique is woven throughout the rest of the film, with actors (never seen in full) portraying Fox, wife Tracy Pollan, and others, acting out past experiences Fox narrates, then meshing flawlessly into actual behind-the-scenes footage from the period.
The film also uses scenes from Fox's own films and TV shows to illustrate points Fox makes about his life. It might inject unintended meaning into some of the footage, but it makes for compelling visual storytelling.
Fox comes across as much gristlier than his squeaky-clean '80s on-screen image, when he was the "boy prince of Hollywood." The man has a mouth on him too. "I'm a tough son of a bitch. I'm a cockroach," he says, describing past bouts of rage and alcoholism and insisting he doesn't want pity -- even as he falls in front of passers-by or struggles through physical therapy sessions.
The cruel irony of a comedic actor losing the ability to move his face or spout off rapid-fire cracks is not lost. Time is short to tell his tale, and Fox -- with Guggenheim's help -- has told it well.
Read the full review at CommonSenseMedia
Image courtesy of Apple TV+