Review: Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie


Michael J. Fox is asked what it means to be still. Mentally or physically? Is it being non-productive and not creative? Is it being passive? Depressed? Does it mean being locked inside a body in a wheelchair?

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) affects nerve cells in the brain. As they weaken, become damaged or die, tremors, impaired balance, and stiffness in arms and legs can occur. However, PD is a boutique disorder, affecting its victims in different ways. For Fox, who was diagnosed at age 29, his body is in almost constant, uncontrollable motion. However, he answers that he doesn’t know what it means to be still because he never was.

That’s the way this intensely well-edited, honest bio-doc begins. Interspersed with home videos, photos, and clips from movies and media, we see that Fox was born driven to achieve and in constant activity. Perhaps ambitious to compensate for his small frame or perhaps genetically endowed with hyperactivity, Fox has always been on the move.

Two of my best friends also have PD, so I’m not under the assumption that this affliction is all that uncommon. Scientists haven’t definitively accounted for a cause, though there is some indication crisis stress may be a factor for some. My two friends have experienced distinctly disparate life experiences. One lost significant parts of her family in two car wrecks. The other was an international busker and world expert in Catalan, living what he calls a relatively easy life before being hit with the diagnosis.

What all three, my two friends and Fox, have in common, besides their respective systemic disease, is an involvement in the entertainment world before diagnosis and an uncommon joie de vivre and sense of meaning and purpose now.

Laura, who was a canter at my church, was also in plays and hired as an extra for tv shows such as “Grimm.” She also owns a business, is a great photographer, and is highly social.

Since diagnosis, all three still live active, meaningful lives. The musician, Lou Hevly, a resident of Catalonia, has written several books since his diagnosis, culminating in “My Encounter with Parkinson’s.” Laura has been traveling around the world, living half of the year at her beach house on the Pacific. Fox has found tremendous meaning in heading up his foundation to eliminate Parkinson’s Disease. So far over two billion dollars have been donated for PD research.

Coincidentally, Laura and Lou were both diagnosed in 2015. Laura was 54 and Martin was 66. Fox was diagnosed in 1991. All three are expected to have a normal life expectancy.

Fox spiraled into denial and alcoholism after diagnosis. But founding The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research gave him a new purpose.

Post-diagnosis Martin has been interviewed on TV and for newspapers in Spain for his accomplishments in teaching English and Catalan and for his latest biographical book about PD. Laura has found new love and is involved in plans to set up a community foundation to help the disadvantaged in inner-city Portland.

In “Still” Fox remarks, “Some saw my disease as an ending, I was seeing it as a beginning.” He has lobbied Congress for PD funding and revolutionized how non-profits operate.

Fox believes he has more to offer now than ever before. Like my friends, he faces this challenge with positive energy, involving himself in all the kinesthetic and mental activities that invigorate his full self, while giving hope for better PD management and a cure.

Rating: 10/10


Director: Davis Guggenheim
Writer: Michael J. Fox
Producer: Davis Guggenheim, Annetta Marion, Jonathan King, and Will Cohen
Executive Producers: Nelle Fortenberry, Jonathan Silberberg, and Nicole Stott
Featuring: Michael J. Fox, Tracy Pollan, Davis Guggenheim, and others
Director of Cinematography: C. Kim Miles
Editor: Michael Harte
Music: John Powell
Released: May 12, 2023

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