In his latest documentary, Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for "Superman”, He Named Me Malala) turns his camera on the much-loved actor Michael J. Fox. The film explores Fox's life and career with the central focus being his struggle with Parkinson's disease. In candid interviews and footage of his daily routines, Fox opens himself up fully to show us what life with the incurable degenerative disease is like, especially for a guy who could never sit still and built his professional identity and screen persona on his ability to nimbly move from beat to beat, line to line, job to job.Guggenheim and editor Michael Harte (Three Identical Strangers, Don't F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer, On The President's Orders) blend staged reenactments with footage from Fox's movies to create a visual pastiche that illustrates the stories Fox tells. It's an effective technique for the first half hour or so, but then it becomes repetitive and tedious. Eventually, we almost dread anytime the doc leaves the present-day Fox to go back to the past and see more shots of him running, opening doors, and waking up in beds from his old movies. We come away from this film with deep respect and admiration for Fox and the way he's chosen to remain in the public eye as a spokesperson and advocate for those with Parkinson's. But it's difficult to embrace Guggenheim's busy, often clunky picture.
Guggenheim's clunky blend of staged reenactments and footage from Michael J. Fox's movies illustrates the stories his subject tells, but the film is at its best during the brief times it stays still and just lets us watch Fox.