Air, slam dunk entertainment

Last month I bought a pair of knockoff Hey Dudes at the local Costco, bringing my shoe collection up to a total of seven pairs, give or take a misplaced flip flop or two. I can afford more (thank you for asking and being concerned), but I would rather spend my money on literally anything else if I can help it because there are few things on this earth that I care about less than shoes. 

When I saw the trailer for Amazon Studio’s Air in theaters I scoffed. When I saw the poster for Air I scoffed. This was the preconceived bias that I was bringing into the film when I begrudgingly sat down to review it, and although the movie did little to dispel this ambivalence towards shoes, I have to say, I really liked Air.

I felt a little gross watching Air because nothing screams soulless corporate sponsored art quite like a movie about Nike made by Amazon. Not only was I disinterested about shoes, but I was also disinterested in watching a feature-length commercial. 

But as films like The LEGO Movie have shown us in the past, sometimes feature-length commercials masquerading as movies can still be great movies in their own right. This turned out to be the case with Air, the story of how Nike signed the legendary Michael Jordan and created the Air Jordan line, a topic that makes me want to fall asleep outside of the context of Air, as much as I love and appreciate MJ himself (and not just because of Space Jam). 

The script, penned by Alex Convery, is punchy and sharp and does the impossible by making business talk engaging. The actors who bring it to life (Matt Damon, Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Chris Tucker, and Viola Davis, to name a few) do so in lively and convincing ways, making you root for them as if they were the true little guys instead of being mostly, you know, Nike executives.

Ben Affleck not only costars but also directs Air, once again proving that he is just as good behind the camera as he is in front of it. He does make one choice that adversely affects the film, however, and that is giving MJ himself very limited screen time and never showing his face. 

The logic behind this decision is sound— although he is obviously an important player in this story (pun intended), this is not an MJ biopic, plus we all know what MJ looks like, so showing a face that is clearly not his own and calling him Michael Jordan might draw people out of the illusion of the film—it does give the impression that MJ didn’t have much agency in the matter and reduces his personality to pretty much nothing. 

This is an odd choice considering the fact that much of the Air Jordan line was supposedly based around Michael Jordan’s charisma and personality, but ultimately this gripe doesn’t amount to much. 

For a short while Air made me care about shoes, and you won’t get a better recommendation than that.

Air is available on Amazon Prime.