Air is the story of one of the world’s most famous sneakers. In the mid-1980s, Nike is a running shoe company first and foremost. While they sell basketball shoes, founder and CEO Phil Knight (Ben Affleck) considers shutting down the division permanently unless a major change of fortune occurs. Knight’s friend and talent scout Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) has one last chance to turn things around. To do so, Vaccaro must discover and hire the next group of NBA players to endorse Nike’s shoes. Vaccaro’s idea is simple in theory: take the entire marketing budget to woo and hire incoming rookie Michael Jordan. Convincing Nike, and Jordan family, of this potential mutually beneficial partnership is a whole other task.
What works in Air is the tone and the lighthearted approach to a fascinating story. Ben Affleck (Argo, The Town) directs a script from Alex Convery that is incredibly breezy, sharp, and full of humor. The entire ensemble both behind and in front of the camera understands that Air is really just about a shoe, even it is the creation of the iconic Air Jordan. As such, the proceedings feel incredibly relaxed and playful. The performances are never over-dramatic, but instead feel like real people/friends who challenge each other respectfully. This keeps Air refreshing at all times as the characters play a game of chess to sure up a deal that not everyone is sure about.
Audiences who don’t like period pieces, sports movies in general, or excessive profanity may not enjoy Air as much as others. While Air doesn’t require extensive knowledge about basketball, those with some historical background will likely get more of the jokes and references. Furthermore, Air is very much an 80s film, both in content and in execution. This shouldn’t be particularly off-putting to anyone, but it is a stylistic choice that may appeal to some more than others. Finally, Air has a lot of swearing. The vast majority of the foul language is purposefully ridiculous for comedic effect, but nonetheless could be deemed offensive.
Air is a very easy movie to enjoy. A story about shoemaking could very easily be mundane. But, thanks to charismatic performances Air is wildly entertaining, engrossing, and funny from start to finish. Highly recommended for all audiences.
Recommended if you Enjoyed: Hustle, Good Will Hunting, Tetris, Blackberry
Air is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.