Reel Corner - May 2023

Air—A Story of Greatness

May 2023 Issue
Reel Corner by Donne Paine

Air—A Story of Greatness

Air is a story about a shoe, granted not just any shoe, but seriously,
a whole two hours about a shoe? The Reel Corner was intrigued and recently
sat down in the comfy recliner seats at Park Plaza Cinema on Hilton Head
and found Air to be much more than about a shoe.

“A shoe is just a shoe until someone steps in it.” —Sonny Vaccaro

Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Viola Davis, Chris Messina
Directed by Ben Affleck

Air is a revolutionary tale that changed marketing culture forever. This true tale follows Sonny Vaccaro (Damon), a Nike executive and athletic recruiter hustling to make the deal of a lifetime.

We all know Michael Jordan became a superstar and arguably the greatest basketball player in the history of the game, and the Air Jordan basketball shoe became a slam dunk—the best known and most coveted sneaker of all time. So how does a filmmaker tell a compelling story to which we already know the outcome?

First of all, Air is not a prolonged sneaker commercial. It is an old-fashioned, crowd-pleasing film. It tells the story of how Nike nabbed Michael Jordan by creating a shoe that wasn’t just for him, but of him, the soon to be iconic persona in a form that makes us feel as if we could reach such heights, too.

If you love movies about the process of things, about people who are good at their jobs, then you’ll find yourself enthralled by the film’s many moments of interactions inside offices, conference rooms, and production labs.

The interactions within these mundane spaces makes Air engrossing and a joy to watch. A favorite part of the film is how it embraces how we looked in the 1980s, what we listened to, and how we operated without the many technological conveniences we have today. There were no cell phones for communication, no GPS systems to guide us, no sophisticated computers to solve our problems or algorithms to predict success.

All we had were hunches, dreams, and intuitions.

The lead character, Sonny Vaccaro, is the NIKE recruiting expert who recognized the young North Carolina guard as a once-in-a-generation talent and pursued him relentlessly to keep him from Converse and Adidas. He is the first to recognize the value of creating a shoe exclusively for one player. Before this revelation came to Vaccaro, shoe companies recruited ballplayers to wear any of their shoes as an endorsement. It wasn’t until one night while Vaccaro was watching TV, eating a TV dinner, that he saw an Arthur Ashe commercial about a tennis racket designed especially for him. In the commercial, Ashe proudly looks directly into the camera and says, “This Arthur Ashe racket can be yours, too.”

Why not design a special shoe tailored for one all-star player, a shoe designed especially for Michael Jordan? Next step was convincing the Nike team that his idea would work.

Air is an easy-to-follow film with a real “Rocky-like” story line based on a true story.

More Upcoming films to be released this month:
Barbie: A Barbie doll living in Barbieland is expelled from the world for not being perfect enough. She is too eccentric and does not fit the usual mold. She goes on an adventure in the real world, and by the time she returns to Barbieland to save it, she has gained the realization that perfection comes from the inside, not the outside, and the key to happiness is belief in oneself.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3:
Still reeling from the loss of Gamora, Peter Quill rallies his team to defend the universe and one of their own—a mission that could mean the end of the Guardians if not successful.

The Little Mermaid:
The Little Mermaid is a literary fairy tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson in 1837. The story follows the journey of a young mermaid who is willing to give up her life in the sea as a mermaid to gain a human soul.


ReelCorner 1219 DonneDonne Paine, film enthusiast, once lived around the corner from the Orson Wells Theater in Cambridge, Massachu-setts, where her strong interest in films, especially independent ones, began. Supporter of the arts, especially films, she has traveled to local and national film festivals including Sundance, Toronto and Tribeca. There is nothing like seeing a film on the big screen. She encourages film goers to support Hilton Head local theaters, Park Plaza Theater and Northridge. To support her habit of frequent movie going, Donne is a vaccine medicine nurse consultant and also the author of 4 Interview Pillars available on Amazon. See you at the movies!

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