Ben Affleck. Matt Damon. Jason Bateman. Viola Davis. Julius Tennon. Chris Tucker. Chris Messina. Marlon Wayans. Matthew Maher. Now THAT is what you call a cast.
Nike executives in a boardroom dreaming up deals and concocting a contract may not sound like the recipe for the best film of the year so far, but these incredible performances and a true sense of heart at the center of it all work together to make Air the crowdpleaser that it is.
Presenting itself as a movie that your dad would absolutely love, AIR is actually much more of a deep introspection on the sports and entertainment industries. It’s a story that we all know (sort of), and those can make for the best movies when they present a side of the story we didn’t know was even there in the first place. These unsung heroes that fought to make this deal come together finally earn their time in the limelight, and rightfully so.
Reading about this film, seeing the all-star cast list, watching the trailer, and seeing some of the stills might make this movie look a little too good to be true. How do they make a movie about a basketball god starring half of Hollywood without making it a cheesy, cringy mess? Well, I didn’t know either. It’s a movie about shoes for crying out loud. But luckily, Ben Affleck knew how to do it right, and that’s just what he did with his latest directorial effort.
“A shoe is always just a shoe until someone steps into it.”
This is a movie about Nike courting the king of the court, Michael Jordan, for a shoe deal. But, somehow, it made me think that I could do anything. Walking out of that screening, I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Everybody had a little extra pep in their step, and a sense of newfound motivation was almost contagious.
Ben Affleck is the most eccentric player here, and he steals the scene every time you see him. Matt Damon portrays the desperation and fight in such a way that you’ll be rooting for him the entire way through. Jason Bateman is such a consistent character chameleon, switching from Identity Thief to Ozark to Air with ease. Viola Davis is a personal favorite of mine, and she more than delivers in her role of Michael Jordan’s mother as an unflinching matriarchal force. Julius Tennon draws from his own life experiences as Viola Davis’ husband to play the father of Michael Jordan, and he also provides a nice sense of levity to some of the more serious situations. It’s been a minute since we have had a film role from Chris Tucker, but he turns in a character with comedic quirks that are always right on time. Chris Messina’s character has this tense but relaxed nervous energy that make him a live wire of an actor. Marlon Wayans’ role here might be minimal, but that doesn’t make his minutes on screen any less impactful. Matthew Maher is an underrated gem in this movie, and his character became an instant favorite, coming in at just the right time to save the day.
The soundtrack was a blast from the past in the best way, always elevating the moment and never feeling corny. Here are each of those songs:
“Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits
“Blister in the Sun” by Violet Femmes
“Atomic Dog” by George Clinton
“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
“Rock the Casbah” by The Clash
“My Adidas” by Run-D.M.C.
“Sister Christian” by Night Ranger
“In a Big Country” by Big Country
“Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan
“Let It Whip” by Dazz Band
“All I Need is a Miracle” by Mike + The Mechanics
“Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon
“Computer Love” by Zapp
“B.O.M.B.S.” by Fabolous
“Good Feeling” by Violet Femmes
“Tempted (Remix)” by Squeeze
“Leave Atlantic City!” by Thomas Newman
“I Can Dream About You” by Dan Hartman
“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
“Axel F (The M&M Mix)” by Harold Faltermeyer
“Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen
“Be Like Mike (I Wanna)” by Teknoe
Air is now playing exclusively in theaters.