Air parents guide

Air Parent Guide

Despite solid acting and believable characters, the movie fouls out on bad language.

Overall C+

Theaters: Although Nike shoes are icons in the running world, the company has struggled to find acceptance in basketball. So the basketball division aims high and decides to pursue a partnership with a promising rookie: Michael Jordan.

Release date April 5, 2023

Violence B+
Sexual Content A
Profanity D
Substance Use B

Why is Air rated R? The MPAA rated Air R for language throughout.

Run Time: 112 minutes

Parent Movie Review

It’s 1984 and Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) has every basketball fan’s dream job. It’s up to him to sign up basketball players to endorse Nike footwear, which requires attending umpteen basketball tournaments and watching endless tapes of past games. The job is great but there’s a big problem: Nike is a minor player in the basketball world and Sonny’s budget is too small to sign the players he wants. And the player he wants most is Michael Jordan (Damian Delano Young), who’s entertaining offers from Adidas, Converse - anyone but Nike.

Jordan’s antipathy to the company doesn’t stop Sonny, who pursues the athlete from every direction, courting old friends and even appealing to the parents. Sonny’s efforts get him a meeting, but now it’s up to Nike to come up with an offer that Jordan can’t resist. This will require more than money. Nike will need all the skill of its shoe designer and the insight that Sonny has acquired over decades in the game.

I must admit that the idea of watching a movie about signing up athletes to market expensive shoes didn’t sound appealing. What got me into the theater was the cast and, as usual, Matt Damon sells the story. His Sonny is single-mindedly devoted to his job, living alone, buying groceries at 7-Eleven, and spending all his free time watching VHS tapes of basketball games. When he sees greatness in a young Michael Jordan, he risks his career to sign him. In that quest, he faces numerous obstacles: Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), the founder of Nike who is risk-averse and doesn’t want to spend the money to bring in major talent; David Falk (Chris Messina), Jordan’s agent, who has a hair-trigger temper; and Deloris Jordan (Viola Davis), who is determined to secure her son’s future and won’t settle for anything less. Creativity, perseverance, expertise, and sincerity are all going to be necessary if Nike is to succeed.

Air tells an interesting story, but the movie isn’t without flaws. The first is length: this film runs at least 15 minutes too long. I don’t object to thoughtful dramas but some of this movie is just bloat and the final act is dragged out to an unforgivable extent. The second problem is profanity. There are over 50 f-bombs in the film, mostly in arguments or casual conversation. Not only do the curse words give the production a Restricted rating, they are completely unnecessary. I understand that people swear in moments of stress, but this kind of excessive profanity doesn’t add anything to the story: it just turns the air blue.

Despite this movie’s unsuitability for family audiences, it will interest some adult viewers. I’m not sure that I’d spend the money for a movie ticket though. The film was produced by Amazon Studios which is a pretty clear indicator that it’s going to stream on Prime Video in the near future. Unless you’re completely obsessed with the world of sports endorsements, I’d wait and watch the movie from the comfort of my own couch.

Directed by Ben Affleck. Starring Matt Damon, Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release April 5, 2023. Updated

Watch the trailer for Air

Rating & Content Info

Why is Air rated R? Air is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout.

Violence: An angry man threatens to bite off someone’s genitals: this is not a serious threat but is part of an argument.
Sexual Content: There is a brief glimpse of a nude male statue with visible genitals.
Profanity: The script contains at least 55 sexual expletives, 18 scatological curses, 15 minor profanities, three terms of deity and six anatomical terms. There are also crude slang expressions for male genitalia.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink alcohol in a social context. There are rare scenes of background characters smoking cigarettes.

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Air Parents' Guide

Nike’s Ten Principles come up throughout the movie. What do you think of them? Do any resonate with you? How faithfully do the members of Nike’s management team follow them? What happens when they break the rules? Is rule breaking ever a good idea? What would have happened to Sonny if his gamble on Michael Jordan failed?

Medium: The 10 Principles at Nike


Loved this movie? Try these books…

If you are a sneakerhead and can’t get enough information about your favorite footwear, there are plenty of books to choose from. For more about Nike, you can read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, founder of the shoe company with the famous swoosh.

If basketball shoes are your thing, you can read Slam Kicks: Basketball Sneakers That Changed the Game by Ben Osbourne and Robert “Scoop” Jackson.

For business intrigue in the shoe world that doesn’t include Nike, try out Barbara Smith’s Sneaker Wars, the story of the cutthroat battle between Adidas and Puma.

For the truly obsessive, there’s Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture, written by Elizabeth Semmelhack with the cooperation of shoe museums and corporate archives from major shoe manufacturers.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Matt Damon stars in another story about business and sports when he plays racecar designer Carroll Shelby in Ford v. Ferrari.

The business of sport is highlighted in Moneyball, a film about Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, who uses statistics to pick the players he believes his team needs.

Rookie players turn the tables in the fictional Hustle and in real life stories such as The Rookie, Invincible, and Brian’s Song.