- Great casting
- The jokes and comedy stick the landing
- Jarring tonal shift during some scenes
The biggest shoe deal of all time hits the big screen.
Follows the history of shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro, and how he led Nike in its pursuit of the greatest athlete in the history of basketball: Michael Jordan.
When it comes to shoes, one of the most well-known brands is Air Jordan. While considered a basketball shoe, the popularity of Air Jordan’s has reached far beyond that original intention. Air (or Air: Courting a Legend) tells the story of Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) while working as the basketball expert in the basketball shoe division for Nike. His job being to keep track of up and coming players, to find the best ones for Nike to sponsor. Air follows the process he took to convince the CEO of Nike, Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), to take the biggest leap in faith to contract the new player Michael Jordon for a shoe deal.
The central focus of Air is the deal itself, and how far Sonny had to go to make it happen. Putting his full faith in the fact that he would be able to convince Michael Jordan, against all odds, to sign with Nike. Working closely with Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman) who leads the basketball shoe division at Nike and Peter Moore (Matthew Maher) who designs and prototypes shoes for Nike we see the up close and personal interactions between these characters. Even showing the ways that Sonny played dirty by going around Michael’s agent and speaking with his parents Deloris Jordan (Viola Davis) and James Jordan (Julius Tennon) directly to seal the thought to be an impossible deal. Everyone sinks perfectly into their characters in the film, bringing them to life with the help of Ben Affleck’s directing talent.
On top of the great acting, Ben Affleck’s directing and Alex Convery’s writing go hand in hand with each other when it comes to the comedy aspects of Air. The camera work adds to the comedy as the two seamlessly tie together. Whether it be panning back and forth between two characters on a phone call, showing the anger of one, and the nonchalant attitude of the other. The slow zooming out during a conversation to reveal the setting of the discussion. Especially used to full effect are the slow pans across a meeting room only to show the awkwardness of a single focused character with close ups to zoom back out to show everyone’s reaction. While it can stand on its own, the comedy is enhanced by the directing that makes every laugh even better.
The biggest fault of Air though probably comes from its tone, or more specifically its very bipolar tone. While the movie is marketed as a comedy, and those aspects exist perfectly, the comedy seems to slam on its brakes for whole scenes. Taking these scenes in a more dramatic tone to get a sadder or more real representation of the events and risks. It is a jarring moment when it happens just before it is pushed aside with another joke. It is understandable how the movie cannot be a laugh a minute the entire 112 minutes of runtime, but the way it shifts into these moments is not as smooth as it could be. Ben Affleck’s directing shows perfectly throughout the movie. This does however make the few overly dramatic scenes almost seem cut from another movie.
Wonderfully directed by Ben Affleck, the story of Nike making a shoe deal is not an incredibly fun premise on paper, but with Air it works. Everything in the movie falls in place when it comes to the actors and the situation they are in. The comedy aspects are great, made even greater by the camera work and directing. While there are tonal shifts in the movie that are jarring, the moments are rare. Even when they do occur the pacing helps to keep the movie going when they finish. Overall, this movie should be on the upcoming movies list of anyone that is a fan of comedies. While the premise of making a shoe contract does not seem like an interesting one, Air manages to push past that extraordinarily to surprising effect.