25 user 7 critic

The Air Up There (1994)

Jimmy Dolan is a college basketball coach who wants a big promotion. To get it, he needs to make a dramatic find. He ends up deep in Africa, hoping to recruit Saleh, a huge basketball ... See full summary »


(as Paul M. Glaser)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Yolanda Vazquez ...
Winston Ntshona ...
Mabutho 'Kid' Sithole ...
Sean McCann ...
Ray Fox
Ilo Mutombo ...
Mark Collins
Keith Gibbs ...
Buddy Wilson
Miriam Owiti ...
Douglas Leboyare ...
Francis Mutei ...
St. George
Gibson Gathu Mbugua ...


Jimmy Dolan is a college basketball coach who wants a big promotion. To get it, he needs to make a dramatic find. He ends up deep in Africa, hoping to recruit Saleh, a huge basketball prodigy Jimmy glimpsed in a home movie. But Saleh is the chief's son and has responsibilities at home, since the tribe's land is threatened by a mining company with its own hotshot basketball team. Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Jimmy Dolan went to recruit a new player. What he found was a whole new ballgame.


Comedy | Family | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 January 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Afrika csĂșcsai  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$17,080,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jimmy Dolan (Kevin Bacon) states the mythical St. Joseph's University won the 1981 National Championship. Indiana University won the 1981 National Championship led by Isiah Thomas. Both Indiana University and Isiah Thomas get a reference later in the movie. See more »


In the basketball game between Winabi and Mingori, Mingori scores and makes it 6-14. We see a person change Mingoris score from 12 to 14. The next time we see the score, it is still 6-12. See more »


Saleh: You came halfway around the world to watch me play this basketball?
Jimmy Dolan: That's what I said.
Saleh: (pointing to his head) Are you healthy up here?
Jimmy Dolan: Never said that.
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Referenced in Where Are They Now?: A Delta Alumni Update (2003) See more »


Written and performed by Matthew Wilder
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User Reviews

A humorous look at NCAA recruiting
18 September 2005 | by See all my reviews

College coaches are known for going to great lengths to woo their recruits. They meet the family, the athlete, and try to present themselves as being just like them, with similar views and values. They kiss up to the parents while singing the praises of the fine institution which pays them. In Jimmy Dolan's (Kevin Bacon) case, his limits are tested when he finds a star player, Saleh (Charles Gitonga Maina) in a documentary video of an African school sponsored by an American. Once he sees Saleh, it's off to Kenya.

In Kenya, Dolan meets with the predictable culture shock and skepticism/hostility from the locals, who wonder why a white guy from America would travel all the way to their land. He "befriends" the local nun/missionary, Sister Susan (Yolanda Vasquez), who advises him of the futility of trying to recruit the firstborn son of the tribe leader, who is duty-bound to his people. Enter an evil mining-company owner from a neighboring tribe who is trying to steal the Winabe tribe's lane, however, and the next thing we know, Dolan has joined the Winabe tribe (a swipe at American coaches who no doubt have bonded with their recruits in similar ways), and is their player-coach for the big game, a game where the Winabe land and Saleh's promise to play at St. Joe's if they win are on the line.

Bacon captures Dolan's essence very well, as an unsympathetic character placed into a very sympathetic situation. The movie is his coming-of-age tale, as we watch him mature from self-centered assistant coach to full-fledged mentor.

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