Six Days, Seven Nights
Screenplay : Michael Browning
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Year of Release : 1998
Stars : Harrison Ford (Quinn Harris), Anne Heche (Robin Monroe), David Schwimmer (Frank Martin), Jacqueline Obradors (Angelica), Tamuera Morrison (Jager), Allison Janney (Marjorie), Douglas Westoh (Phillippe), Cliff Curtis (Kip)
Ivan Reitman's "Six Days, Seven Nights" feels like a movie that might have been made fifty years ago, although those movies had fewer explosions, less infidelity, and no "tit" jokes. The film works moderately well as a variation of the old romantic fable of two people being stranded on a desert island together combined with the oft-used Hollywood plot device of antagonism - between - two - attractive - people - eventually - developing - into - romance.
Harrison Ford stars as Quinn Harris, a tough and salty charter pilot with a hidden soft side, who flies Robin Monroe (Anne Heche), a New York magazine editor, and her fiancee-to-be, Frank Martin (David Schwimmer), out to a lush tropical island in the South Pacific for six days and seven nights of romantic vacation. Unfortunately, the vacation is interrupted when Robin is called by her boss to oversee a quick photo shoot in Tahiti. She talks Quinn into flying her, but they are caught in a storm and forced to crash-land on a deserted island.
This scenario sets up the fact that Quinn and Robin -- who up until this point have indicated only animosity and distrust toward each other -- will have to work together in order to survive. The movie is very much in the vein of Robert Zemeckis' vastly superior "Romancing the Stone" (1984) -- the two leads bicker a lot and exchange plenty of sarcastic and cynical comments, all of which points to growing romantic involvement. Opposites attract, you might say.
However, in "Six Days, Seven Nights" we have to forget that Robin has just gotten engaged to Frank, who is a self-proclaimed romantic and on all fronts seems a decent guy. Luckily for Robin, the plot requires Frank to fall into bed with a lusty, large-breasted dancer named Angelica (Jacqueline Obradors), so any infidelity Robin might commit with Quinn is justified by Frank's own inability to stay faithful. At least Robin was in a perilous situation, and you what they say about what happens when men and women are in danger together ...
Director Ivan Reitman, who is probably still reeling from last years' disaster that was "Father's Day," tries to give us a little bit of everything: lush, tropical scenery shot on the Hawaiian island of Kaui (beautifully photographed by cinematographer Michael Chapman); some adventurous action involving marauding modern-day pirates; and Ford without a shirt and Heche without a bra. Reitman develops some good banter between his leads, although they never develop any real chemistry. Romance is the bottom line in "Six Days, Seven Nights," and unfortunately, the relationship between Quinn and Robin never feels quite right.
While the action aspect of the movie is handled with fine technical skill, it sometimes feels as though the script, by first-timer Michael Browning, is trying way too hard. For instance, there is one scene when Quinn and Robin are walking in the jungle, and suddenly the ground gives out from below them, and they fall Indiana Jones-style into some chute-like caves. And then they walk out, and that's the end of it. It would seem that these mysterious caves might serve some purpose to the plot, but they don't.
The pirates are a whole other matter. First, they show up out of nowhere to put the romantic pair in danger and keep them from escaping the island. Quinn and Robin manage to elude them, at which time the pirates disappear until they are needed to conveniently re-materialize near the end in order to create an action-packed escape. If you can accept the notion that there are still murderous pirates roaming the high seas, almost anyone will notice how their presence is painfully plot-driven.
Despite the lack of real romantic chemistry, both Ford and Heche (whose real-life lesbianism is a complete non-factor) display astute comic timing. Ford's ability to deliver intelligent sarcasm is growing into one of his major strengths as an actor. However, Browning's script doesn't really give Ford and Heche all that much to talk about, and when they do, the dialogue is sometimes unnecessarily vulgar (especially two un-funny and crude jokes about the size of Heche's breasts). Back on the main island, Schwimmer simply bumbles through his sub-plot, not branching a twig beyond his "Friends" persona.
As a whole, "Six Days, Seven Nights" comes off as mild, escapist entertainment. It isn't really a bad movie; in fact, some parts are really quite enjoyable. However, it isn't hard to see that with a few script revisions, it could have easily been much stronger.
©1998 James Kendrick