Air review: An absorbing story about the origins of Nike’s Air Jordans | Films | Entertainment

With big first-name stars used up, producers have found a new source for their nostalgia-soaked biopics. Last weekend, Apple released a film about the invention of the video game Tetris. By the end of the year, we’ll have movies about the BlackBerry smartphone, the corn-based snack Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and even the Pop Tart.

As the latter was written and directed by comic Jerry Seinfeld, it seems the invention of a new genre (the product biopic?) will be confirmed by the release of its first spoof. But first, we have Ben Affleck’s Air – an absorbing if overly earnest origins story for Nike’s Air Jordan training shoe, set in 1984.

Here, the underdog is the pump giant’s in-house basketball guru Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon). It’s the job of this paunchy, middle-aged marketing executive to get rising stars of the game to wear and endorse Nike trainers.

But after seeing the talent flock to Adidas and Converse, Sonny wants to invest his entire budget in one ball player – a Chicago Bulls rookie called Michael Jordan. First, he’ll have to win over Michael’s formidable mum Deloris (an excellent Viola Davis) and Nike CEO Phil Knight (an amusing Affleck).

Together, Sonny, Deloris and Phil will come up with a deal that revolutionises the way billion-dollar brands work with billionaire sports stars. Is that inspiring?

Possibly to audiences steeped in the myth of the American Dream. But the boardroom battles are well acted, sharply written and scored to some great 80s hits.

Dire Straits’s Money For Nothing is a good way to kick off. But, by the end, I wondered if the music supervisor was making some kind of ironic dig.

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