Oscar For The Sneakers
I think I’m not alone among the fans who pay attention to what the actors wear in movies. The first time I paid attention to the sneakers, I think, back in the ’80s – it was a movie about the guys from the ghetto (or it was Back To The Future?). And, because I trained basketball, I pay attention to awesome shoes they wear. Since then, I unconsciously watching the sneakers that actors wear; so I’ve decided to make an article about shoes in the movies I’ve watched. One day Air Jordan will get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Pump will get signed up for a sequel, and Adidas will win the Academy Award for Best Sneaker in a Supporting Role :)
Sneaker: Nike Air Woven
Movie: Lost in Translation
When the Air Woven dropped, it was a hugely significant moment that pulled sneaker design and marketing into the 21st century. You didn’t think you’d see Bill Murray wearing a pair, but in Sofia Coppola’s ‘Lost in Translation’ he pulls them off with ruffled ease. Was there a correlation between a shoe that got an HTM makeover appearing here and a cameo from Mr. Hiroshi Fujiwara? Possibly.
Sneaker: Nike Terra T/C
Movie: The Goonies
Lawrence “Chunk” Cohen might have needed to shed a few pounds, but he was unlikely to take up running at any point. You can’t knock his pick of the state-of-the-art Terra T/C though — a shoe that introduced the world to Phylon, a technology that was the Lunar foam of its day. Why isn’t there a Terra T/C retro on the shelf?
Sneaker: adidas Phantom Hi
Movie: New Jack City
Ice-T knew the score. If you’re going to engage in a spectacular pursuit of a young Chris Rock by foot — set in late ’80s New York — do it in a hi-top like the Phantom Hi. Pookie rocks the adidas too and some of the styles that get worn throughout ‘New Jack City’ stay classic. Many of Nino’s suits remain a stylistic no-go, but everyone should reacquaint themselves with this film.
Sneaker: adidas Tourney
Movie: Teen Wolf
It’s tough trying to work out what’s on Michael J. Fox’s feet in ‘Teen Wolf’ but it looks a lot like the adidas Tourney — a popular basketball sneaker for high schools and colleges at time-of-filming. This movie is festooned in adidas — a stark contrast to the Nike-centric ‘Back to the Future’ franchise that popped off the same year.
Sneaker: Reebok Pump Omni Zone
Movie: Robin Hood: Men In Tights
A better Reebok Pump moment in a slightly piss-poor film than the excruciating moment of Pump with Ben Kingsley in the ’90s nostalgia of ‘The Wackness’, Dave Chappelle’s decision to Pump up an anonymous looking Pump design is almost funny. It would have been funnier if it wasn’t released two years after the Dee Brown “No Look” dunk it references.
Sneaker: Asics Gel Saga II
Motormouth Jay wears a surprisingly muted shoe when he’s hanging outside the store in Kevin Smith’s budget classic. Bob always seemed to be more of a Nike dude, but Jay’s soon-to-be-retroed Saga II was a mid-price release that was never really meant for hardcore running. It’s probably better suited for swearing, dancing and harassing folk outside a local retail operation.
Sneaker: Reebok Pump Twilight Zone
As Spike Lee’s cinematographer, did ‘Juice’ director Ernest Dickerson learn the art of sly product placement? Forget Tupac’s 40 Belows for a second and look at the early scene where Omar Epps’s character looks to his brother for morning sneaker approval. Trying on a trio of Pump styles including the Twilight Zone, Court Victory and Omni Zone, his sibling denies each pick and Q settles for a shoe that looks a little like the Nike ACG Caldera. Was this all a Reebok Pump diss? Hard to say.
Sneaker: adidas TRX
The greatest sneaker sightings are the ones where they’re the star of the scene. The opening of classic Brit-prison flick ‘McVicar’ depicts no less than The Who’s Roger Daltrey battling prison guards over his “trainers” — a pair of the legendary adidas TRX lightweight running design. That was a sought-after shoe on UK shores in its heyday, making it worth serving extra time for.
Sneaker: Nike Air Jordan XIII
Movie: He Got Game
How do you win your estranged son’s trust? By wearing a killer pair of basketball shoes. Spike’s penchant for product placement hadn’t diminished in the decade that has had passed since he first depicted MJ sneakers on celluloid, and a scene where an ankle-tagged Denzel visits a sports store and is talked into buying a pair of White/True Reds. Then there’s Jesus’s Foamposite Pros and Booger’s Terra Sertigs — but if we tried to cram that all in, this list would get too Spikecentric.
Sneaker: Nike Air Revolution
Movie: Do The Right Thing
While Buggin’ Out was bugging out over his Air Jordan IVs — very contemporary at time of filming — Radio Raheem was rocking 1987’s pioneering Air Revolution (the first Nike basketball shoe with visible air) in the 1988/89 red and white makeup. This towering design suits the owner as he adopts Robert Mitchum’s ‘Night of the Hunter’ speech, bellows about batteries, acts oddly, loses his stereo and is the tragic victim of heavy-handed policing. The world needs another retro of this shoe in OG colors with a strap that actually fits. Mookie’s Air Trainer SCs (now called the Air Trainer III) are worthy of note too.
Sneaker: adidas Official
Movie: Blade Runner
Deckard knew that hunting down replicants required a stealthy sneaker. The solution? The adidas Official shoe — a stealthed-out take on the adidas Stan Smith (or Robert Haillet if we’re being pedantic) shoe, with a tweaked outsole. Ridley Scott’s occasionally subtle futurism gives Harrison Ford an extra degree of cool, as he takes a quasi-formal design intended for referees and officials and takes it to somewhere equally neon lit, but a little more dystopian. A trenchcoat and all-black-everything on the feet is a strong look.
Sneaker: Nike Vandal
Movie: The Terminator
When Kyle Reese is blasted back from the future without clothes in ‘The Terminator’ he knows he can’t beat a murderous hitman android naked. So he robs a department store and takes some Nike Vandals from a bin that have an appropriately tech-noir colorway of black and silver. Seeing as this model never seemed targeted at basketball play, maybe saving mankind was its performance intent. Had Kyle set that dial to one year later, he could have robbed some Nike Terminators from a Georgetown player’s kit bag.
Sneaker: adidas Country
Movie: Beverly Hills Cop
Evidently, maverick members of Detroit favour a surprisingly restrained sneaker. For all his loudmouth ways and epic amounts of profanity, the adidas Country is a muted choice, but Axel Foley’s outfits have aged pretty well for the leading character in an ’80s blockbuster and this shoe got plenty of show in both the film and the extensive promotional materials around it.
Sneaker: Nike Cortez
Movie: Forrest Gump
Forrest isn’t disappointed by this offering from Jenny, as the lovable dimwit is gifted with a pair of classic leather Cortez. Rather than gangbanging and throwing up his set or hatching schemes Ã la Costanza, he actually opts to run in the dual density masterpiece — as was the original intent of the shoe. Salutes to the filmmakers for tapping up the archives to get the original packaging too.
Sneaker: Nike Air Trainer III
When your brand makes Batman’s batboots, you know you’ve made it. Batman’s outfit shocked a few puritans around the release of Tim Burton’s interpretation – many seemed stuck on Adam West-style smedium, stretchy attire. To accompany the new bulletproof Batman, he got special editions of Bo Jackson’s Air Trainer III (originally called the Air Trainer SC) as part of his lofty footwear.
Sneaker: Puma Suede
Movie: Beat Street
PUMA officially endorsed ‘Beat Street’s big budget ‘Wildstyle’ bite, but it was effective product placement. This film is beyond corny. When the film’s protagonists weren’t being hassled by the man, we could see them break in a railway station, clad in PUMA gear. That had a vast effect on a hip-hop audience hungry for anything rap-related, where the shoe remains deified as a hip-hop icon.
Sneaker: Reebok Alien Stomper
While Ripley had to get over the trauma of her daughter aging and dying during her inadvertently lengthy hypersleep, she got some good future sneakers after that extended snooze. The Alien Stomper (originally promoted as the Aliens Fighter) was a Velcro-aided sci-fi hi-top reinterpretation of old favorites like the BB series in a killer colorway. These toured as a promo “prop” and went on sale a few years later in a slightly altered form.
Sneaker: Nike Sky Force Hi
Movie: The Goonies
Data from the Goonies was the racial stereotype we aspired to be. The plastic false teeth on a spring? Awesome. Giving the Asian kid the wacky inventor role probably wouldn’t pass today, but without Data’s madcap inventions, the Goonies would probably have been subject to execution-style slayings via the Fratellis. Data’s “Slick Shoes” — a tricked out pair of Nike Sky Force Hi save the day with their oil-releasing properties.
Sneaker: Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi
Movie: Game of Death
Bruce Lee is synonymous with Onitsuka’s slimline masterpiece — Quentin Tarantino even riffs on it in ‘Kill Bill’ — and Kobe used it as inspiration for a colorway of his Zoom Kobe V. Before Wiz, Bruce popularized black and yellow, but in his garbled and weirdly edited final flick, we see him in similarly colored adidas racing flats and some low-cut vulc adidas shoes too. It’s inconsistent but effective, adding to the jumbled Bruce Lee mythos.
Sneaker: Nike Air Max Triax
Movie: Space Jam
Sorry, the internet doesn’t need another tract on why the ‘Space Jam’ Air Jordan XIs are amazing. If you don’t know by now, you’re beyond hope. So as a break from the norm, we’ll look at another shoe in the same film — the Air Max Triax that Michael Jordan is wearing when the bulldog leaps on him. There was no way that this film wasn’t going to rank pretty highly in this list, and it might contain the greatest cinematic SMU ever.
Sneaker: Nike Air Mag
Movie: Back To the Future Part II
When people talk about the second ‘Back to the Future’ film, they talk about Marty’s self-fastening Nikes before any talk of the plot. These caused an audible gasp in theatres worldwide, and the speckles, the aqua and grey colorway and the hi-top looks were eerily prescient of what gets kids hyped in 2011. We’re still waiting on a release for this shoe and several Nike Air and Zoom homages in recent years just up that sense of anticipation.
Sneaker: Nike Air Command Force
Movie: White Men Can’t Jump
Woody Harrelson’s Billy Hoyle uses whiteness as part of the hustle, but his sneakers are pretty serious. Sidney rocked the fine Flight Lites in this film too, but David Robinson’s vast Air Pressure aided shoe is a focal point. We see homages and we’ve even seen that underrated heel pattern on the heel of a few other silhouettes, but this model’s never had a retro — presumably, retroing Pressure technology would an expensive project — as only a cluster of cash-strapped ironists would buy a pair.