Director: davis guggenheim Script: Michael J Fox| Cast (in the new scenes): Danny Irizarry (Michael), Hannah Galway (Tracy), Kai Kreinman (Little Michael #2), Miles Meacham (Little Michael #1), ea | Time to play: 95 minutes | Year: 2023
Frame: A Michael J. Fox film is duly titled. This is a film about a man who, despite an illness (which prevents him from sitting still) and uncertainties and doubts, continues to make people happy with his work. In addition, it is a documentary that shines with care and affection, to transmit the story as interesting as possible. This is, in short, still a Michael J. Fox movie after all.
Frame: A Michael J. Fox film follows the life story of actor Michael Andrew Fox (he chose the J as a tribute to actor Michael J. Pollard). From his early days as a kid who couldn’t sit still, through his mega-success with Return to the future, to his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease and finally his life today, with his family and his physio appointments. His story is told by Fox himself, reading his own books. That sounds a bit pretentious, but this choice works well.
As a result, this documentary is more like an audiobook with pictures than a series of pictures with audio. The best parts and sentences of his books have been copied word for word, so the images do not have to do more than give a vague interpretation of what counts. The language of books naturally contains many more descriptions than the language of cinema. The footage there is a nicely edited mix of stills from the many movies and series Fox made during his career, archival footage, and recently shot footage here and there.
The hodgepodge is less confusing than it sounds, but it takes a good quarter of an hour to get used to, as Fox’s ever-changing setting or wardrobe doesn’t seem to make sense at first. Until it becomes clear that it is mainly what the chosen fragment wants to make clear and not what can literally be seen. The snippets often contain an atmosphere, a certain facial expression by Fox, or an appropriate quote, which sometimes fit eerily well with the real-life situation the narrator is talking about at the time.
As well as the inventive ‘listen and watch a bit’ stories, there’s also a standard direct interview with Fox herself. This really shows the power of her story. He can be a little hard to understand at times and his constant movement gets on your nerves (although he can’t help it of course), but he’s still funny and passionate, and most of all, very open and honest. The interviewer only has to bring up the fact that he is actually in a lot of pain, but that is forgiven because he says very quickly that he doesn’t need pity.
The focus is really only on Fox himself, there is no talking to his family and the people around him. Michael himself tells a lot about, for example, his wife and his role. The few fragments that we see of them together say more than his wife could tell on camera, so she is not surprised. Other than his family, there is no further mention of other people who probably also played an important role in his career.
That makes the documentary more personal, and because of that focus, Fox tells more about it than you can find on Wikipedia. Plus, Fox and director Guggenheim show what Parkinson’s disease really does to a person. For example, Michael says that he has already fallen a couple of times because of his illness and since the tone is so personal, it doesn’t seem so pathetic, but like something that is part of his daily life.
The man himself is interesting enough to fill an hour and a half. His story, aside from the Parkinson’s part, is essentially not that special in the world of movies. Knowing this, Guggenheim and Fox focus on the things that made Michael J. Fox a star: a handsome face, a great sense of comedy, and his determination to always make the best of things, even when the going gets tough. difficult.
Frame: A Michael J. Fox film can be seen in AppleTV+.