Making the Grades
The Air Up There stars Kevin Bacon who plays Jimmy Dolan, a basketball coach who winds up in Africa on a search for new talent. After finding his dream player, Saleh, a member of a traditional African tribe, Jimmy has to try and get rid of a bully in the local town that owns the land Saleh's tribe lives on. Only after doing this will Saleh agree to leave for the US. The proposed solution rests upon a basketball game. Saleh's tribe leaves if they lose, but if they win, the bad guy has to go away.
The idea and premise for this movie is good. Much like Cool Runnings, this film seems to have the potential to bring the same good feelings and fun to the audience. Unfortunately that doesn't happen here. The Air Up There is a typical two hour quick fix with a plot that seems to be motivated around North American greed and superficial situations.
Jimmy comes into a tribal situation with only one offer: To make Saleh a big basketball star with lots of money. There is no concern for the changes Saleh's leaving will bring to the family along with the misconception that more money will make everything better. Western culture is portrayed as the ideal, as the Africans are proud to announce that they spend most of their time watching western satellite television. (It is an unfortunate truth that western television is all that is offered for TV in many of these countries.)
This is a movie full of subtle racial discrepancies of western superiority, unrealistic solutions to major problems, the concept that money makes everything better, and a good deal of bad language considering its PG classification. You may want to give it a try, but if you are looking for the basic predictable sports movie, there are many better choices, like Rudy or Cool Runnings.