SXSW love Michael Jordan movie

Ben Affleck’s latest film about hoop dreams, “Air,” received rave reviews Saturday at South by Southwest.

Early reactions have been stellar for the film, which tells the story of how then-rookie Michael Jordan teamed up with Nike on their groundbreaking Air Jordan shoe line. Affleck directs, produces and portrays Nike CEO Phil Knight.

“It was the happiest professional experience,” Affleck told the Austin American-Statesman, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, on the red carpet before the film’s unveiling on the closing night of the Austin Film Festival. “There’s a certain magic, and maybe it’s Michael Jordan, you know. All my life, I thought, as a director, if I could have Viola Davis in my film, then I would have her. really done.

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Ben Affleck and Matt Damon reunite on the SXSW red carpet

The SXSW premiere reunited Affleck with his friend (and “Good Will Hunting” co-star and co-writer) Matt Damon, who plays Sonny Vaccaro, the Nike executive who persuades Knight to give Air Jordan a shot. They were joined on the red carpet by Davis and her husband Julius Tennon (who play Jordan’s parents Deloris and James Jordan) and costars Jason Bateman, Chris Trucker and Chris Messina.

“She was a generation where your kids are your dreams,” Davis said of Deloris Jordan. For years in the black community, “people weren’t allowed to dream because we had no opportunities. And so she was a woman who believed in education, but she believed in taking advantage of this opportunity that her son had playing with the NBA and getting the most for this amazing human being.

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Longtime friends Ben Affleck and Matt Damon hit the carpet for the premiere of "Air" at SXSW in Austin.

What critics are saying about Ben Affleck’s new Michael Jordan movie, ‘Air’:

The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, both on social media and in movie reviews:

“Entertaining, hilarious, hopeful and best movie of the year so far“, tweeted The Hollywood Handle.

“The film applies – wonderfully – the poetic reverence usually reserved for the portrayal of sports in these types of dramas to the process of designing a shoe,” wrote arts and culture critic Lovia Gyarkye in her review “The Hollywood Reporter”. “Not a slam dunk, but scores enough points.”

Variety critic Peter Debruge praised Davis’s film casting: “The smartest thing Affleck could have done, because winning the EGOT is to acting what Jordan is to sports: his strength inspires and it can move us to tears while making it easy,” he wrote in his review.

Viola Davis, seen here on the red carpet, plays Michael Jordan's mother, Deloris, in "Air."

“The Affleck & Damon chemistry is more alive than ever. Viola is just awesome. Ben is becoming a PHENOMENAL directortweeted Reel Movie Junkie.

“The script for AIR is so good,” tweeted SXSW programmer Peter Hall. “It’s remarkable how the stellar cast makes every exchange sing.and Affleck’s impeccable direction in ensuring that no moment or role was lost or mis-served.

“A exciting, crowd-pleasing feel-good about risk, trust, confidence and family!” tweeted film critic Scott Mantz of

“Air” hits theaters on April 5 and will premiere on Amazon Prime Video at a later date.

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USA Today

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