By Owen Gleiberman
Updated January 28, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

THE AIR UP THERE (PG) The latest of Disney’s new-style minstrel shows, this one featuring Happy Negro basketball players from Africa-a whole tribe of ’em! Kevin Bacon, as an assistant college coach, journeys to the wilderness of Kenya to recruit a 6’8” Winabi warrior named Saleh. Until the big game, the film contains virtually no basketball. Instead, Bacon gradually becomes part of the Winabi nation (Dances With Point Guards?). As Saleh, newcomer Charles Gitona Maina, his radiant smile and lanky physique set off by brightly colored beads and face paint, has a winning presence, but the movie treats him less as a character than as a beautiful found object. D ( 206, Jan. 21) -OG

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