Review: Sneakerheadz: Only for the Sneaker-Hearted (Nike, Michael Jordan, Run-DMC’s song “My Adidas”)

sneakerheadz

Sneakerheadz is a documentary about exactly what it sounds like- people who love sneakers. Like any hardcore collector Sneakerheadz will go to any lengths (I mean any, i.e. all the way to murder) to get their hands on some limited edition Jordans.

The doc traces sneaker mania from the 1980s to now. The footwear goes from being purely utilitarian to a coveted status item. Michael Jordan and Nike’s collaboration resulting in the first Air Jordan in 1984 to Run-DMC’s song “My Adidas” helped fuel the craze that amalgamated sneakers and pop culture. Once that happened we get all sneaker brands launching their limited editions and a literal onscreen glossary’s worth of types of sneakers for people to salivate over. See ShoeAdviser‘s take on the different sneakers that are trending today.

If sneakers are something you’re into this movie is for you. It features 70 minutes of designers, general fanboys (only two women), businessmen and celebrities (designers Jeff Staple and Frank “The Butcher” Rivera to rapper Wale and actor-comic Mike Epps), talking lovingly about their obsession. It is a bright non-judgmental movie about people who love sneakers.

One collector (maybe jokingly) tells us Sneakerheadz “will forgo paying rent for a pair of sneakers they will never wear”. Others tell us they lost count of their collections at around 2000 pairs of shoes. More tell us their friends and family thought there may be something wrong with them- a statement explored by Dr. Carolyn Rodriguez in the film who asks, “How do you distinguish normal collecting from hoarding disorder?”

These are the parts of the film that delve into aspects of the subculture the casual non-sneakerhead may not know about- really telling us what a craze it is. But Sneakerheadz doesn’t linger there. Instead, it largely focuses on people who talk about their shoe rooms.

Even as we cross the globe from the U.S. to Japan we only end up in shoe stores, with pretty shots of shoes- not on anyone’s feet because god forbid they wear their expensive collector’s items.

That sneakers cross fashion borders into music, entertainment, and of course, the sports world is mentioned-but still only explored through closets. That the trend towards sneaker culture is a movement strong enough to reach hospitals in the form of charity-publicity stunts-one kid even achieving designer fame off this- is touched upon.

That sneakers are something to kill for- a brief segment gives us the statistic that there are 1000 sneaker related deaths per year-is also brought up as the “dark side” of the culture. We hear from Dazie Williams, a Houston mother whose son, Joshua Williams, was shot and killed in 2012 over the Air Jordans that Joshua had purchased for himself and his own son. And then we move back to our extended Nike commercial.

Sneakerheadz only touches on parts of the cultural aspect of sneaker obsession and focuses largely on the literal aspect- that people obsessively buy sneakers and keep them.

I’ve watched plenty of docs which focus on things I know nothing about and would never think to care about (e.g. Yak Dung). What makes them watchable and entertaining is their ability to draw the viewer into their world- no matter how unfamiliar and far away it is-and make you care about it at least for the film’s duration.

You know when you’re really into something, a TV show, game, comic etc and all you want to do is talk about it-and the only people who don’t get that glazed look in their eyes while you do are other fans?

Sneakerheadz is the documentary version of that.

Sneakerheadz opens August 7th.

Production: Friendly Films, Jump Films
Directors/producers: David T. Friendly, Mick Partridge
Screenwriter: David T. Friendly
Executive producers: Christopher C. Chen, Andy Friendly, Michael Finley, Stephen P. Rader, Wale
Director of photography: Paul de Lumen
Editor: Steve Prestemon
Composer: Rick Marotta

Not rated, 70 min.

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