SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTSPG-13
It would be virtually impossible to turn down an invitation to spend time on the lush Hawaiian island of Kauai, and presumably that's what drew mega-star Harrison Ford to this fluffy, old-fashioned picture that's reminiscent of It Happened One Night and The African Queen but can hardly be mentioned in the same breath with either. Ford, a licensed pilot and aviation buff, also couldn't pass up a chance to do his own flying in Six Days, Seven Nights; his character Quinn is a cargo pilot in the South Pacific who leads a breezy, no-strings-attached life with few needs and few cares. His laissez-faire attitude is squarely at odds with that of Robin Monroe (Anne Heche), a fast-talking, fast-living assistant editor at a New York City fashion magazine who is swept off to the dreamy island Quinn calls home by her solid but strictly dullsville lawyer boyfriend Frank (David Schwimmer). Once on the isle, Frank proposes to Robin, who accepts, but her bliss is cut short by an emergency magazine assignment which necessitates her traveling to Tahiti for a quick shoot. Robin bribes Quinn to give her a lift in his DeHavilland Beaver but, once airborne, bad weather wrecks their plane on a seemingly uninhabited island in an indeterminate location. From there. the film follows a tried-and-true screwball formula: The duo bicker, have nothing in common, can't possibly survive together and, of course, end up falling in love.
Given all the press about her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, I'm happy to report that the best thing about Six Days, Seven Nights is Heche's sassy and sexy performance-she's a certified babe in her resort wear. Heche and Ford have decent charisma, even if the film doesn't permit them to get too close. A scene where Ford retrieves a water snake from her pants is about as risqu as this very square and tame film gets. Director Ivan Reitman doesn't have a heck of a lot to work with in Michael Browning's script, which tries to liven things up by awkwardly throwing in some pirates to threaten the distressed duo. Heche is a gifted comedienne who can deliver a perfectly timed wisecrack ('I've flown with you twice and you've crashed half the time'), so there's some fun to be had in the slapstick scenes, such as when she takes too much Xanax during their rough flight or accidentally inflates a life raft while inside the grounded plane's cockpit.
After setting off their only flare into a tree, and rescue or escape from the island starts seeming really urgent, Robin mellows a bit and begins to see that anyone that can cook a tasty peacock over a fire can't be all bad. Settling into the damsel-in-distress role, she pleads with Quinn, 'Aren't you one of those guys with skills? Send them into the wilderness with a Q-Tip and a pocketknife and they build you a shopping mall.' Realizing her cell phone is of little use, she's happy to step aside and let the big strong man take charge. All in all, though, Ford and Heche never really comes to life as a screen couple-it's by no means a classic pairing. Ford easily slips into the rugged handyman/hunk role, and is more than believable romancing a much younger co-star, but he's hardly been asked to stretch here, so his performance inevitably feels phoned in. Schwimmer, an actor best tolerated only in small doses, is suitably stiff in his straight-man role. Adding some spice and a healthy dose of jiggle is Jacqueline Obradors as Quinn's island girlfriend Angelica, who, when the stranded duo is presumed dead, propositions Frank, observing that the occasion would be like 'after a funeral when everyone has sex.' And Robin's feisty editor, played by Allison Janney, is a complete knockoff of Kay Thompson in Funny Face. Too bad that Six Days, Seven Nights, as slick a production as it is, can't hold a candle to the classic examples of the genre all too readily available on cable or at the video store. Discriminating viewers are better off saving their pennies for a real-life trip to Hawaii.