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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned Hardcover – Unabridged, April 13, 2010

119 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael J. Fox began his career as the lovable Alex P. Keaton, the star of the poular sitcom Family Ties. Since then, his career has been a nonstop success story, with blockbuster movies like Back to the Future, The Secret of My Success, Doc Hollywood, and the lead voice in Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire. He retired from his award-winning role on Spin City. Michael has won numerous awards, including four Golden Globes, four Emmys, two Screen Actors Guild awards, GQ Man of the Year, and the People's Choice award. He is the author of two books, Lucky Man and Always Looking Up. He actively lobbies for stem cell research around the country and is very visible in raising money for Parkinsons research with the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

From AudioFile

Michael J. Fox dropped out of school to pursue acting, but he now has several honorary doctorates. In a book that echoes the addresses he gave when he received those honors, Fox shares anecdotes and lessons from his own life with a self-deprecating, engaging style. His voice is still as youthful as it was when he played Alex P. Keaton. While Fox himself says there's no profound guidance here, grads and others will take the occasional lesson from turning points in his life, such as his last-ditch tryout for "Family Ties" and the mystical trip to Bhutan that temporarily gave him a respite from the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease. J.A.S. © AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; First Edition edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401323863
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401323868
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.2 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael J. Fox is best known today for his hit Channel Four sitcom Spin City that he also produced. In the eighties he became an international mega-star, first through TV shows such as Family Ties, then through the record-breaking Back To The Future movies.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Julie Neal VINE VOICE on April 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This tiny volume-- barely bigger than a Poptart -- will only take a half-hour or so to read. Author Michael J. Fox of television and movie fame has penned this classic little book for graduates, and it's chock full of insight, humor and interesting stories from his life.

Right up front high-school-dropout Fox poses a question to the reader: "What the hell were you thinking?" He has since earned a GED (General Equivalency Degree) and several honorary college diplomas, but all in all Fox has learned much more in Life 101: "an amazingly comprehensive education, albeit unstructured, and often unbidden."

After listing other accomplished people who also bailed on formal education (including the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp and Ben Franklin), Fox dives into stories from his youth. For example, Fox learns economics through his experiences as a teenage actor, before being cast in Family Ties, dealing with agents and taxes. Later he learns deeper lessons as a recovering alcoholic, family man and as a person stricken with Parkinson's disease.

The overall impression is of a grateful and self-deprecating man with hard-won wisdom, writing with a light touch.

Another good book for a recent grad is Dr. Seuss's incomparable Oh, the Places You'll Go!.

Here's the chapter list:

Prologue: Finally... The Beginning

Part One
Two Schools
When Am I Ever Gonna Use This Stuff?

Part Two
Comparative Literature
Political Science

Part Three
Pay Attention Kid, You Might Learn Something

Part Four
Victims of Pomp and Circumstance

The Beginning... Finally
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mom of Sons VINE VOICE on May 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I wish Amazon didn't consider 3 stars "critical" because I really liked Michael J. Fox's little book. It's just a slim little thing, probably would amount to about a half-hour speech if it were a script. It is impossible to not like this guy. He's engaging, sincere, self-deprecating, intelligent, deep, funny, classy, courageous, human, honest, warm..I could go on but then my review might be longer than the book!

In "Funny Thing...," which reads like an address to graduates, Michael J. Fox reveals a bit about his own life, dropping out of high school not just to further his acting career, but because he was learning disabled and struggling terribly in school, although he's obviously bright as a button. He gives some general advice to graduates, inspirational and thoughtful but general.

Smart release at graduation time, this makes the perfect vehicle for a heartfelt inscription and a nice check for your favorite graduate. I like it a lot.

Also recommended: Lucky Man, Mike's memoir up to his diagnosis of Parkinson's and the beginning of his recovery from alcoholism. For that book, five stars.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. It made laugh out loud as I was reading it. This is the second book that I have read by Michael Fox and have enjoyed both. He is an engaging author and I look forward to his next book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alla S. VINE VOICE on April 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future," Michael J. Fox recounts his learning experiences in life, applying the lessons learned to subjects in school, while providing some Hollywood tales and student advice along the way. The tome is really small and easy to carry around. This book would probably make a good gift for not only Fox's legions of fans, but any new graduates looking for some simple insight into life.

Fox applies his early life in L.A.--the life of a starving artist, a high school drop-out, and an optimist willing to risk everything for the life of his dreams--into subjects he would have learned, if he had gained this knowledge through a university education, rather than from his life. For instance, Fox compares his lessons in acting (the rules of supply and demand), in addition to poor money management during his first years in the U.S., to Economics. In a different section, he compares learning Comparative Literature, to going through tons of scripts for TV/movie projects. Other "subjects" included (compromised solely on Fox's life experiences with them), include Physics, Political Science, and Geography.

The writing is witty, and entertaining. I especially like the last two sections of the book, part three "Pay Attention Kid, You Might Learn Something" and part four, "Victims of Pomp and Circumstance." Fox's voice comes across as meaningful and easy to relate to, and some parts are especially touching. This book proves that ultimately lessons learned in life, are more lasting than anything learned in school. A recommended read.
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Format: Hardcover
If this is your only exposure to Michael J Fox biographical books then you will no doubt get a lot more out of reading this, rate it higher and probably enjoy it a bit more too. But as someone who has read the sensational Michael J Fox autobiography Lucky Man and the not as good but does fill in timeline wise the gaps of what happened after the final pages of Lucky Man, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, there's very, very little new content here. Granted A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, is a much catchier title than the other two books, and being it is a lot thinner you wonder if Fox and the publishers had regretted not using it before and just decided to do a summary book under the better title. This book is sort of like one of those cheat books students buy that summarise books so they don't have to read the thicker main book. That's pretty much what reading it is like, Fox basically just summarises his life experiences instead of taking you the reader into his childhood, school days, life as a struggling actor, successful actor, diagnosis of and living with Parkinson's Disease like he did with Lucky Man and to a lesser extent its sequel. It's like someone telling a really good story at party and the next week you hear them retelling it when there's new people there, but leaving out all the details. For example in this book we the reading audience are simply told another actor originally started filming as the character Marty McFly.Read more ›
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