• FILM

  • SEARCH FOR

The Air Up There

Directed by Paul M. Glaser. Starring Kevin Bacon, Charles Gitonga Maina. (1994)

REVIEWED By Pamela Bruce, Fri., Jan. 7, 1994

The time-worn formula of the underdog surpassing all odds meets a premise reeking of cultural imperialism that takes basketball mania a bit too far. A self-assured, fast-talking coach at a Catholic college named Jimmy Dolan (Bacon) blows a major recruiting deal, only to discover -- in a wine-fueled daze at a faculty dinner -- a glimmer of a new prospect (Maina) who just happens to be depicted playing a mean game of B-ball in a shot from a film concerning the college's latest missionary efforts with the Winabe tribe in Africa. Before you can say “slam dunk,” Dolan is on his way to Kenya to convince this born-to-be sports superstar, by any means possible, to sign on the dotted line. But, no matter how cute or clever Dolan appears in his outwardly innocent agenda, there are still ambiguous underlying implications to suggest that his character represents yet another unwelcome and unnecessary intrusion into the Third World by an Industrial Nation. Just as in centuries past, Dolan wants to exploit a native person's abilities solely for the benefit of modern Eurocentric culture, namely the glory of a potential college basketball conference championship. And when Dolan's intrusion heats up a land dispute between a local, sleazy gangster (who revels in the invasion of ESPN and other aspects of modern technology to the area) and the Winabe, the film trivializes the fate of the poorer Winabe on the outcome between them and the gangster's goon squad team in a do-or-die basketball game. This wild jumper misses the hoop.

READ MORE
More Kevin Bacon Films
The Darkness
Supernatural horror film from the Blumhouse scare factory

Steve Davis, May 20, 2016

Black Mass
Johnny Depp plays the notorious South Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger

Kimberley Jones, Sept. 18, 2015

More by Pamela Bruce
Baraka
This New Age tone poem captures images from 24 countries that transcend geographical and language barriers.

Dec. 17, 1993

Peking Opera Blues
Deception and betrayal in culture and politics take center stage in this splendid narrative that shifts between farce and violence, suspense and emotionality.

April 23, 1993

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The Air Up There, Paul M. Glaser, Kevin Bacon, Charles Gitonga Maina

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)