Movie Reviews

Michael J. Fox's 10 Best Movies, Ranked

Summary

  • Michael J. Fox has had a long and successful career in Hollywood, starring in a variety of films that showcase his comedic and dramatic talents. Here are some of his most notable roles:
  • “Back to the Future” (1985) – As Marty McFly
  • “Teen Wolf” (1985) – As Scott Howard



Michael J. Fox is a beloved movie star, and while most audiences easily recognize him from his starring role in the Back to the Future trilogy, his best movies encompass much more than that. Working as a romantic lead, a comedic actor, and lending his iconic voice to vocal work, Fox has never limited the kind of projects he’ll work on. What comes through in all of his performances is the boyish charm and charisma that has never left him, even in his later years. His legacy will remain a vital part of cinema for years to come.

After his breakout movie role in
Back to the Future
in 1985, Fox took on more cinematic roles moving forward, with fun guest spots and cameos in TV shows like
Scrubs
and then in a starring role in
Spin City
.


Fox first rose to fame for his performance as Alex P. Keaton in one of the best ’80s sitcoms, Family Ties. However, after his breakout movie role in Back to the Future in 1985, Fox took on more cinematic roles moving forward, with fun guest spots and cameos in TV shows like Scrubs and then in a starring role in Spin City. After his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, Fox started The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research and has been enormously successful in his advocacy. As both an actor and an individual, Fox has made history with his actions.

Related

Michael J. Fox Gives Back To The Future Vibes As He Joins Emotional Coldplay Performance

Michael J. Fox exudes Back to the Future vibes upon joining an emotional performance Coldplay’s “Fix You” at their Glastonbury concert.


10 Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

As Chance


Chance, the dog Fox plays, often serves as comedic relief but is still very lovable.

One of Fox’s best roles as a voice actor is bringing to life Chance, one of the lost dogs in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. The voices of the animals are a star-studded group, including the late Don Ameche as Shadow and Sally Field as Sassy the cat. It’s impossible not to have one’s heartstrings tugged by the story of Homeward Bound, as nearly everyone has experienced the deep love of having an animal companion and the terrible heartache of losing them. Chance, the dog Fox plays, often serves as comedic relief but is still very lovable.

Watch
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
on Disney+.


Though it premiered in 1993, Homeward Bound is just as moving and relatable to children today as it was in the ’90s. The film is a remake of the 1963 movie The Incredible Journey but still distinguishes itself as a worthy successor to the classic tale. While it’s meant for children, Homeward Bound has plenty to enjoy for audiences of all ages. Thanks to amazing voice acting, the internal monologs of the animals feel just as real and urgent as their human counterparts.

Homeward Bound

9 Stuart Little (1999)

As Stuart Little


Stuart Little has become a classic of children’s cinema, and Fox’s voice as the titular mouse, Stuart Little, makes the film. Stuart is a young mouse looking for a family when he’s adopted by the Littles, a human family who readily takes him in, even if there are many missteps. Blending live-action and animation, Stuart Little was ahead of its time in 1999, and its visual effects hold up surprisingly well today. Though Stuart is a mouse, his experience and determinedly positive attitude are relatable for children and adults alike.


It was hugely popular at the time of its release, and though it hasn’t maintained this level of popularity, it did warrant a sequel in 2002. In many ways, Stuart Little is an ideal movie for a family to watch, and though Fox’s voice is well-known, it disappeared into the role, allowing Stuart to be his own character. Alongside a stellar live-action cast, including Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie, Stuart Little became something even bigger than anticipated.

Watch
Stuart Little
on MGM+.

Stuart Little (1999) - Poster - Stuart standing on shoe

Stuart Little (1999)

Stuart Little is a family film directed by Rob Minkoff, featuring a talking mouse named Stuart, adopted by the Little family in New York City. Michael J. Fox voices Stuart, who embarks on various adventures while trying to fit in with his human family, including his brother George, played by Jonathan Lipnicki. The film explores themes of belonging and acceptance in a heartwarming and comedic manner.

Director
Rob Minkoff

Release Date
December 17, 1999

Cast
Michael J. Fox , Chazz Palminteri , Nathan Lane , Geena Davis , Hugh Laurie

Runtime
84 Minutes


8 Bright Lights, Big City (1988)

As Jamie Conway

Bright Lights, Big City
, isn’t as effective as the book but still shows the audience a side of Fox that was rarely presented onscreen.

Facing hard times and unlucky in love, Fox plays Jamie Conway, the protagonist of Bright Lights, Big City, the movie based on the novel of the same name by Jay McInerney. A strong commentary on yuppie culture and the dangers of rampant drug use in the 1980s, Bright Lights, Big City, sees Fox playing a more tragic character than ever before. Jamie faces rejection at work and in his love life and quickly becomes addicted to cocaine alongside his friend, Tad (Kiefer Sutherland).


Bright Lights, Big City, isn’t as effective as the book but still shows the audience a side of Fox that was rarely presented onscreen. As Fox was known primarily as a comedic actor and a charming one at that, it’s somewhat shocking to see him in an antihero role. Jamie succumbs to substance abuse and consistently makes the wrong decision. However, it was an important turning point for him as an actor. The subject matter of the story connected with audiences as it was representative of the current cultural climate.

Watch
Bright Lights, Big City
on Tubi.


7 The Secret Of My Success (1987)

As Brantley Foster

Drawing parallels to the hit stage musical and movie of the same name, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Secret of My Success is a fun send-up of the corporate romantic comedy. Fox plays the young man Brantley Foster, who moves from the Midwest to New York City with a dream of becoming a big shot in the financial sphere. When things don’t go his way, Brantley creates a false identity, Carlton Whitfield, to move through the ranks of his uncle’s company, but soon finds that juggling this is more than he’s capable of handling.


The film derives its comedy from the mixups and intrigue of multiple identities and overlapping love affairs that lead to unnecessary but humorous confusion. Unfortunately, The Secret of My Success never reaches the heights of How to Succeed, but it seems that the movie never expected it would. Instead, it presents a callback to the classic 1960s sex comedy in the form of the corporate world of the 1980s. Though Fox is up for the comedy and the romance, it’s difficult to believe he’s capable of his character’s guile.

The Secret of My Success

Director
Herbert Ross

Release Date
April 10, 1987

Cast
Michael J. Fox , Helen Slater , Richard Jordan , Margaret Whitton , John Pankow , Christopher Murney

Runtime
111 minutes


6 Doc Hollywood (1991)

As Dr. Benjamin “Ben” Stone

Though the movie is deeply rooted in comedy and plays with plenty of slapstick situations, it’s the tender romance that stands out and gives the story depth.

The conceit of Doc Hollywood is classic and one that’s been trodden many times by movies and TV shows alike. When Fox’s Ben Stone accidentally takes a detour to a small southern town, his plans to become a flashing Hollywood plastic surgeon are upended by a chance encounter that blossoms into love. Contrived this may be, it’s thanks to Fox that the formulaic romantic comedy is something more and makes a strong case for Fox as a romantic leading man. It’s easy to see why his counterpart, Lou (Julie Warner), is swept off her feet despite Ben’s overly confident nature.


Few other performers could handle the tropes and pitfalls of a movie like Doc Hollywood with the grace that Fox does, but he manages to make his dislikable character more than charming by the film’s end. With a surprising appearance from a young Woody Harrelson as a minor antagonist in the story, there are hidden elements in Doc Hollywood that maintain its merit today. Though the movie is deeply rooted in comedy and plays with plenty of slapstick situations, it’s the tender romance that stands out and gives the story depth.

Doc Hollywood is available to rent on Apple TV and Prime Video.


5 Back To The Future Part III (1990)

As Marty McFly

The Back to the Future trilogy is reasonably strong in every installment, but the franchise does decline in quality with each successive iteration.Back to the Future Part III is by no means bad, and if it weren’t for how good the first two films are, it might be higher on the list. However, Part III is the weakest of the films because it doesn’t have a reason for being in the same way the other two do. The story of the first film is tight and clear, providing a straightforward setup for the second movie.


There was no justification for Part III outside of the enjoyment audiences got from the characters reuniting. However, this isn’t necessarily negative, and the chemistry between Fox and Christopher Llyod never wavers, even as they’re transported to the Wild West. Back to the Future Part III doesn’t challenge its audience or its actors but merely serves as a victory lap that cements the trilogy as a highlight of Fox’s career from start to finish. Going into Back to the Future Part III with limited expectations makes for a perfectly enjoyable time.

back to the future 3

Back to the Future Part III

The final entry in Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s timeless trilogy, Back to the Future Part III wraps up Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s adventures through time when Marty travels to 1885’s Wild West to save his mentor, meeting Biff Tannen’s ancestor “Mad Dog” and almost changing the course of history once again along the way.

Director
Robert Zemeckis

Release Date
May 25, 1990

Runtime
118minutes


4 Casualties Of War (1989)

As Max Eriksson

It was a dramatic pivot for Fox, who was best known for his family-friendly films and sitcoms, or movies that leaned toward the romantic comedy genre.

Though Casualties of War is not considered historically accurate in its depiction of the Vietnam War, it still ranks as one of Fox’s most technically well-received and well-made films. It was a dramatic pivot for Fox, who was best known for his family-friendly films and sitcoms, or movies that leaned toward the romantic comedy genre. Conversely, Casualties of War was an intense commentary on war crimes committed by American soldiers during the Vietnam War. The film’s story is loosely based on true events.


It’s an emotionally intense film, and while Fox is up to the challenge of shouldering this weight, not all of his costars are. A young Sean Penn plays Tony Meserve, one of the young men who commit the horrific and violent acts that spark the story’s central conflict. One of the biggest issues with Casualties of War is that it perpetuates the narrative of the white savior, as Fox’s Eriksson is the member of the squad who vehemently opposes the violence. However, Fox and Penn are excellent foils and work hard to anchor the grueling story.

Casualties of War
is available to rent on Prime Video and Apple TV.


casualties of war film poster 2

Casualties of War (1989)

Director
Brian De Palma

Release Date
August 18, 1989

Cast
Michael J. Fox , Sean Penn , Don Harvey , John C. Reilly , John Leguizamo , Thuy Thu Le , Erik King , Jack Gwaltney

Runtime
113 Minutes

3 Back To The Future Part II (1989)

As Marty McFly

Better than Back to the Future Part III but not quite as successful as Back to the Future, Back to the Future Part II achieves its goal of subverting the story of the first movie. Though it came out several years later, the sequel picks up right where the original film leaves off and sees Marty travel to 2015 and witness who he will become one day. This flips his experience of Back to the Future, during which he gets to see who his parents were as teenagers, changing his whole outlook on their relationship.


What makes Back to the Future Part II original is how it doesn’t rely on the same formula as the first movie or ride its coattails to notoriety. Overall, the story isn’t as tight and leans into the surrealist elements of its predictions about a future society. Unfortunately, stories about the future are inherently less nostalgic than those about the past or present, so the appeal to emotion was never going to be as strong in Back to the Future Part II. However, it maintains momentum and includes many hilarious moments of physical comedy, even more so than the original.


Back to the Future Part 2 Movie Poster

Back to the Future Part II

Taking up where the first movie left off, Back to the Future Part II sees Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the year 2015, where their efforts to fix the future end up causing even bigger problems as Biff Tannen wreaks havoc across the timeline with the help of a stolen sports almanac. Martin J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd return in Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s second installment of their iconic trilogy.

Director
Robert Zemeckis

Release Date
November 22, 1989

Cast
Lea Thompson , Elisabeth Shue , Christopher Lloyd , Michael J. Fox , Thomas F. Wilson

Runtime
108 minutes

2 Teen Wolf (1985)

As Scott Howard

Not to be confused with the hit teen TV show of the same name, the 1985 movie Teen Wolf saw Fox turning into a much less sinister sort of werewolf than the kind typically depicted on screen. Unfortunately, Fox’s more famous and critically lauded film, Back to the Future, came out the same year, so Teen Wolf was overshadowed by its success. However, this fun supernatural comedy was a twist on the movie monster. Though the shtick of the werewolf costume is a fun part of the movie, the best emotional beats come when Fox’s character, Scott, is being himself.


Teen Wolf
intimately understands how to use Fox’s talents and lets him shine even in the undeniably goofy premise of the story.

The movie’s story is a metaphor for adolescence and the journey everyone faces to accept themselves for who they are. Scott’s journey is certainly hairier and paved with unexpected challenges, but it’s still a universal tale. Additionally, Teen Wolf intimately understands how to use Fox’s talents and lets him shine even in the undeniably goofy premise of the story. Though it didn’t receive the most glowing critical reviews, watching Teen Wolf today warms the heart.


1 Back To The Future (1985)

As Marty McFly

Back to the Future remains the best time travel movie of all time, thanks to its strong internal logic and the consistency of the rules of time travel within the story. However, for most audiences, the science behind time travel matters much less than the amazing performances and iconic nature of the film. To this day, Back to the Future remains synonymous with the 1980s style of filmmaking and is demonstrative of how best to blend comedy and sci-fi for a movie that appeals to everyone.


Of course, Back to the Future‘s great success would not have been possible without Fox and his first performance as the lovable Marty McFly. The smash hit that Back to the Future turned out to have far exceeded the popularity of a traditional summer blockbuster, and this is because of the emotional weight of the narrative. Throughout the film, the stakes are high enough that the audience genuinely worries for Marty and his fate and is moved by his development as a character. There is no better tribute to Michael J. Fox’s talent than Back to the Future.


Back to the Future Poster-1

Back to the Future

Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown. In 1955, he meets his parents when they were his age, and must step in to make sure they wind up together before he gets back to 1985.

Director
Robert Zemeckis

Release Date
July 3, 1985

Cast
Claudia Wells , Christopher Lloyd , James Tolkan , Thomas F. Wilson , Michael J. Fox , Wendie Jo Sperber , Crispin Glover , Marc McClure , Lea Thompson

Runtime
116 minutes

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