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A Hard 'Six Days, Seven Nights'

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 12, 1998

  Movie Critic

Six Days, Seven Nights
Harrison Ford and Anne Heche star in "Six Days, Seven Nights." (Touchstone)

Ivan Reitman
Harrison Ford;
Anne Heche;
David Schwimmer;
Temeura Morrison;
Danny Trejo
Running Time:
1 hour, 46 minutes
For occasional profanity, gunfire, a short-lived melee, cleavage and intimations of sexual activity
Much of the action of "Six Days, Seven Nights" centers around a small plane with broken landing gear mired in the sand of a South Pacific beach, and that unfortunate image proves to be an apt metaphor for the film itself. Part comedy, part adventure and part romance, the movie is neither particularly loathsome nor lovable, but exerts most of its limited resources trying fitfully to get airborne.

While sporadically capable of flight, the narrative is effectively grounded by uninspired casting, bland writing and a premise that has been done to death innumerable times before.

The formula will be familiar to audiences from "The African Queen," "Romancing the Stone" and their by-now-tired ilk: A couple of polar opposites get thrown together in the wild and, after initial comedic bickering and the bonding that inevitably results from life-threatening danger, love rears its unlikely head.

Here, the mismatched duo are played by Anne Heche as peppery New York magazine editor Robin Monroe and Harrison Ford as salty airplane pilot Quinn Harris. In the middle of a vacation on the tropical island of Makatea, where boyfriend Frank Martin (David Schwimmer) has just proposed marriage, Robin's high-powered job suddenly beckons her back to neighboring Tahiti for a one-day photo shoot. On the flight there in Quinn's tiny, battered charter plane, a fast-moving squall forces the odd couple down on a deserted island, where they must contend with wild pigs, scorpions, starvation, earthquakes, pirates and each other.

At this point, the film develops its own engine trouble when it becomes apparent that there is little real chemistry between the gruff but lovable Ford and the acerbic but . . . well-groomed Heche. It's obvious from the start that the nasal and whiny Robin deserves no one so much as the equally adenoidal kvetcher Frank, whose greasy hair matches the over-moussed locks of his fiancee.

Nonetheless, because the script calls for it (and for no other reason than the fact that he gallantly pulled a snake out of her shorts), Quinn and Robin are eventually rolling and smooching in the surf a la "From Here to Eternity." Although the plot gives Robin the lion's share of screw-ups-wasting their only emergency flare, blowing up the life raft inside the cabin of the plane-with the resourceful Quinn left to fix things, his justifiable irritation with her air-headed incompetence inexplicably dissipates faster than a summer storm.

As Quinn, Ford provides the film's only stolid, rooted presence. It's obvious why his rugged good looks and can-do spirit would appeal to Robin. On the other hand, his attraction to her remains a mystery every time she opens her mouth. Strident without a suggestion of effervescence, Robin's empowered woman of the '90s comes across as just plain annoying instead of endearingly out of her element.

"Six Days" does briefly manage to achieve lift-off during some energetic and tense moments on the island as the couple frantically attempts to hide from some howitzer-toting bad guys while implausibly repairing the plane with the equivalent of spit and duct tape. But when the danger subsides and the sparkless romance returns to the foreground, the vehicle comes sputtering back to earth with a thud, weighed down by the inertia of its leaden leading lady.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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