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|Index||23 reviews in total|
What makes this movie above all is the delightful acting of the Africans, especially Mr. Charles Gitongo Maina. I read that he went on actually to play basketball at a US college, but his acting in this film was what made it believable. Kevin Bacon was fun to watch playing at a typecast basketball coach, although his physical presence belied the role. Without the physical presence of Maina, this film would have fallen apart, but his warmth and verisimilitude as an teenager torn between sworn duty and aspiration made this viewer a believer. Suspension of disbelief is a basic prerequisite to the enjoyment of this kind of moral tale, and Charles Gitonga Maina made it seem real. The film uses cliché throughout, but it is the acting of all the cast of characters which brings this small film alive. It is a film of bits and pieces but well acted bits make them endearing. It is not a great work of art, but it is filled with a genuineness which transcends itself, including some truly beautiful scenes and scenery and music. The style, grace and dignity of the African actors make the whole film a delight to watch. Speaking of its bits and pieces, the one truly discordant note in the whole story was the misuse of the quotes from Quran which really had no point or place or meaning in the story. It just perplexed me. It sticks out with a pointlessness in an otherwise heart warming story. The "Bismillah" was beautiful but out of another time and culture and milieu, and still leaves me wondering (?)
Kevin Bacon totally dominates this film. In fact, he's the only "name"
actor in it. You won't recognize anybody else in here.
The story is lightweight entertainment with the most notable aspect being the African music, which is very good and a small tour of Kenya, which is interesting, both with beauty and poverty.
Bacon plays as basketball assistant coach, an ex-point guard, who goes to Africa to recruit this great player "Saleh" (Charles Gitangra Marina) for his team back in the States. The adventures of the trip pretty much are the story.
One negative: another irreverent slam to get a few cheap laughs at the Catholic church. A nun in here uses profanity and gives Bacon a big kiss on the lips. It's one more example of trying to make clerical people appear worldly like the rest of us.
Paul Michael Glasser's "The Air up There" is a fun film to watch,
knowing full well what to expect. It doesn't break new barriers, or
brings anything new to this type of film, but it is a totally harmless
time in front of the television. Not having seen it in its commercial
run, we had a chance to enjoy it the other night when it turned up on
The best thing, as usual, going for this film is Kevin Bacon. Mr. Bacon makes anything he plays in an enjoyable experience. No matter what he does, he is totally believable, as is the case with his role as this coach, Jimmy Dolan, who will go to any extreme in order to get a good basket ball player for his team at Saint Joseph's.
His African journey gives Jimmy Dolan a first eye view of the poverty and hardship the young men in the remote village have to endure. He realizes the potential, especially in Saleh, the young man he wants to bring back to America.
Both Mr. Bacon and Charles Gitonga Maina, who plays Saleh, have an easy time together bonding in a hostile environment. Their inter action makes the film enjoyable. Also, the mostly unknown supporting cast compliment the movie.
Granted, this is a film to watch only for entertainment and to enjoy Kevin Bacon at his most charming self.
I just watched this movie again, and I still love it from when I was a kid.
(I know everyone loves some stinkers when they're kids, but bear with me.)
This movie was as entertaining now as it was back then.
I know the plot can be predicted almost to the detail, but if that doesn't immediately and absolutely put you off it, it's a real treat. The acting and script are sincere, but even more so, the whole movie just has an innocent sincerity to it that's actually a rare find (even in a kids' movie). If this movie were a romance, it wouldn't hold up at all with this kind of sentimentality, but in a fun movie that's (technically) a sports drama, it really lends something to the whole affair that can put you in a good mood every time you watch it.
I'm sure part of this is Maina's performance, which is so sweet you can't help but like it -- this is coming from a usually-cynical moviegoer who dislikes "sappy" movies.
All in all, it's a charmer.
When college basketball coach Jimmy Dolan loses the hottest new recruit by
beating him in a game of one on one and damaging his pride he loses his job
and looks for a way to get back. He sees a brilliant African player on a
home movie and travels to Kenya to recruit him. However Saleh is the
Chief's son and has his own problems as a mining company is trying to get
control of the tribe's land.
Bacon is not really a lead actor but someone who can give a good performance in co-lead or support. Here he has a film to carry on his own and struggles with it. Mainly it's due to the formulaic nature of the plot lets be honest, even from the plot outline above I bet you could guess how's it going to end. However that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable just not very good. It has plenty of nice laughs and the basketball action is fun and will directed if not realistic.
Despite the formula the cast mainly do quite well, but really it never manages to get above the sort of formulaic sports comedy that we see so often. However it is entertaining and I did enjoy just switching off my brain and letting it go in one ear and out the other.
Instantly forgettable and very by the numbers but some good laughs, good locations and good basketball action make it an entertaining enough film to just veg out in front of. Not great but passable.
Kevin Bacon stars in "The Air Up There," a family "comedy" that is
nothing more than a few familiar faces and half-hearted laughs. It's
another feel-good underdog story of which is not particularly
Kudos to Bacon for turning a pretty routine script into a watchable, even amusing movie with some OK moments and likable characters. Not as good as "Cool Runnings," but still worth catching if it's on Sunday afternoon or something.
Not great, but good.
So, without delving too deeply into the annals of "worst-to-first"
sports movies, or counting off the multitude of "cultures in contact"
stories, let me simply say this about the movie, "The Air Up There:" it
succeeds, quite well in the mind of this critic, at what it sets out to
accomplish. It is thematic, formulaic, and a tad predictable in parts,
but none of that degrades its overall quality as a film. In fact,
despite this movie getting lost somewhere in the recent history of film
(and being overshadowed by similar movies such as "The Mighty Ducks"),
I genuinely believe it to be the best movie of that genre, maybe ever,
but certainly of this era.
Now, I'm aware some of you might raise eyebrows at that statement, but let me elaborate; Not only is the scenery absolutely breathtaking, but all of the artistic design, costume styling, and cinematography is beautiful. On top of that, the story is engaging, regardless of one's ability to forecast the ending at any point. Additionally, the mere fact that themes such as maturation, redemption, independence, loyalty, "progress," and family all play central roles in this film, should qualify it is a deeper work of art than countless (sports) movies of today.
Most significantly, this film contains something else that is occasionally lost in similar movies: DECENT ACTING. Say what you will about Kevin Bacon, or even this movie, but without a doubt, Kevin gives a wonderful, believable performance. He excellently displays the passion that is a prerequisite to be an athlete or coach in highly competitive sports such as College Athletics. Furthermore, the character Jimmy Dolan exhibits a wide gamut of emotions over the course of the story, and Mr. Bacon plays this perfectly. Interestingly, the best performance of the movie (and there are plenty of good ones: 'Kid' Sithole as Nyaga, Wilson Ntshona as Urudu, and Dikembe Mutombo's brother, Ilo, as Mifundo) comes not from Bacon, but from Charles Gitonga Maina, who inexplicably, has only appeared in one episode of SeaQuest DSV since this movie was made. He is immensely likable, charming, and completely believable as a star basketball player (after all, he was a world class sprinter in real life!) from a humble village. Truly, his performance is absolutely spectacular, even when placed within the context of the other stellar performances in the movie.
Is this movie perfect, devoid of all stereotypes and patronizing cinematic techniques? No. And yet, nothing is lost because of that fact. As it was over a decade ago, it remains a wonderful, adventurous, heart-warming movie, one that deserves a far more solid place in cinematic history than it has been relegated to. I, for one, love this movie, and usually watch it a couple times a year, enjoying it every bit as much with each successive viewing (in fact, I feel the truth of the matter is, I enjoy this film MORE with each successive watching, as I continue to find noteworthy facets every time).
In summation, I implore you to do yourself a favor: the next time you're feeling depressed, inadequate, or entirely stressed, rent or buy this movie, and watch it. I guarantee, you won't be able to make it to the end without a smile finding it's way onto your face.... :D
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.
As someone who's never really been into sports, "The Air Up There"
hardly seems like the sort of movie that I would like, but I did. When
basketball talent scout Jimmy Dolan (Kevin Bacon) goes to Kenya to
recruit a new player, he ends up finding Saleh, a chief's son whose
skills exceed what anyone could have imagined. But before he moves to
the states, there are some things that both sides are going to have to
This movie is interesting mainly for two reasons: it's good to see a sports movie that's not all about machismo, and a movie that looks at Kenyan culture (not one that we usually get to see). The movie isn't really any kind of masterpiece, but it never pretends to be one. There are some scenes that look like they were thrown in for comic relief (namely the goat milk). Pretty interesting.
Kenya -1990s. St Joe's basketball team is famous but runs into a double crisis. For one, the acclaimed coach is going to retire and must name his successor. Moreover, the team is in dire need of a hoop star. Jimmy Dolan, ex-player and deputy coach, has therefore no choice but to find the star: his career is at stake. On a short video of a mission in Winabi (Kenya), he sees the star he needs. How to get there, to identify the player and to convince him to go back to the USA with him will however be quite a challenge! The spectator should not expect anything remotely intellectual or an even slightly probable description of Africa. But Kevin Bacon is good and the movie hilarious at times. A very entertaining, light movie, which beyond the classical story of friendship between two young men of different cultures (for once not too patronizing), shows quite interesting scenes of beautiful basketball and demonstrates a bit the incredible cult Americans make of sports in the environment of what is supposed to be tertiary education.
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