March 30, 2023

CINEMA | Matt Damon Jumps – Fresh 'Air' Jordan x SXSW 2023

"A shoe is just a shoe until my son steps into it."
Matt Damon Ben Affleck | Air: Courting A Legend | Amazon Prime Video
SXSW Film & TV Festival
Ben Affleck directs longtime friend/collaborator Matt Damon (both producers) in a period marketing drama about the courting of then NBA rookie and future all-star Michael Jordan to become Nike's first star athlete spokesman. Ostensibly a corporate dramedy about advertising and the birth of the wildly popular Air Jordan shoe brand, Air: Courting A Legend (as it's titled in advertising) hits all the right notes as it expertly mimics elements of the biographical underdog sports movie formula to a tee.

Co-starring Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, and Affleck himself as various (reluctant) executives at the Portland-based sports apparel company before its popularity exploded, there's a stellar supporting cast of comedically gifted actors to heighten the unlikely (mostly) true story. Viola Davis also stars as Jordan's no-nonsense mother (a casting request from Jordan himself), Deloris, alongside Chris Messina as possibly the smarmiest sports agent ever.

Scripted by Alex Convery, there's actually not much to the 1984-set film or story when you think about it. We all know what happens and who Michael Jordan becomes. Still, how Aflleck joyously captures middle-aged men with guts talking in rooms dials up the stakes of the soon-to-be powerhouse athletic clothing brand.

Affleck's stylish period direction and Damon's amiable comic performance make Air imminently watchable in the true mold of a typical biographical sports drama. It does not reinvent the formula but squeezes it for all its worth for a feel-good dramatization of how an all-star athlete became a global brand even before stepping onto an NBA court.

Air premiered as the closing film of the 2023 South by Southwest Film & TV Festival (Austin, Texas) as part of the Headliners section. It will also be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video starting May 12th.

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / ScreenCrush

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