August 12, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future by Michael J. Fox
2010 Hyperion
Finished on 7/10/10
Rating: 2.5/5 (Fair)

Product Description:

Michael J. Fox abandoned high school to pursue an acting career, but went on to receive honorary degrees from several universities and garner the highest accolades for his acting, as well as for his writing. In his new book, he inspires and motivates graduates to recognize opportunities, maximize their abilities, and roll with the punches—all with his trademark optimism, warmth, and humor.

In A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, Michael draws on his own life experiences to make a case that real learning happens when "life goes skidding sideways." He writes of coming to Los Angeles from Canada at age eighteen and attempting to make his way as an actor. Fox offers up a comically skewed take on how, in his own way, he fulfilled the requirements of a college syllabus. He learned Economics as a starving artist; an unexpected turn as a neophyte activist schooled him in Political Science; and his approach to Comparative Literature involved stacking books up against their movie versions.

Replete with personal stories and hilarious anecdotes, Michael J. Fox's new book is the perfect gift for graduates.

Weighing in at 100 pages and consumed in under 2 hours, Fox's slim book is reminiscent of Anna Quindlen's Being Perfect and A Short Guide to a Happy Life. They're those short little books that wind up on every bookstore's "Gifts for Grads" table and, while they may seem like a perfect gift, they're easily forgotten—much like that valedictorian speech.

So what did I learn from Fox's self-deprecating script? Well, I disovered that Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Robert De Niro, Chris Rock, Kevin Bacon, John Travolta, Hilary Swank, Jim Carrey, Charlie Sheen, Sean Connery, Al Pacino, and Quentin Tarantino all have something in common—they never graduated from high school.

I found two quotes worth marking:

No matter how fantastic a movie's premise is, there are always a special few who buy in and accept the craziest shit at face value, like the hoverboard. I've fielded more questions about hoverboards than any other aspect of the trilogy. Otherwise sane people were convinced that these devices actually existed, especially after Bob Zemeckis made tongue-in-cheek comments to the press about parent groups preventing toy manufacturers from putting them on the market (this resulted in hundreds of kids calling Mattel, demanding hoverboards for Christmas).


In my experience, a mentor doesn't necessarily tell you what to do, but more importantly, tells you what they did or might do, then trusts you to draw your own conclusions and act accordingly. If you succeed, they'll take one step back, and if you screw up, they'll take one step closer. Whatever it is they teach you...pass it on.

And, that's about it. Hilarious anecdotes? Not so much. But I've always admired Alex P. Keaton Michael J. Fox and can highly recommend his earlier work, Lucky Man. I haven't had a chance to read his latest memoir, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, but I'm sure it's a bit more inspiring than this little Cliffs Notes version of his life.

For more information about Michael J. Fox, please take a look at the following links:

Michael J. Fox Theater

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research


  1. Are you saying that hoverboards aren't real???? OMG!! LOL!!

    My mom read Always Looking Up and really enjoyed it. I have yet to read either one, but I do like Fox and his attitude about life and his disease.

  2. Well, now that I've read the two best quotes, I think I'll skip the rest of the book. Great review!

  3. Staci - I know!! :)

    Good to know that your mom enjoyed Always Looking Up. I'll get to it one of these days.

    Kathy - I hope I wasn't too negative about this little book. It's probably worth checking out from a library. :)

  4. He'll always be Alex P. Keaton to me :)

  5. Ti - Me, too! :)


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