Six Days, Seven Nights
Director: Ivan Reitman. Cast: Harrison Ford, Anne Heche, David Schwimmer, Jacqueline Obradors, Allison Janney. Screenplay: Michael Browning.

Has ever a film so embraced its own picture-postcard, superficial, and fleeting appeal as does Ivan Reitman's Six Days, Seven Nights? The premise finds Anne Heche's Robin Monroe, a magazine editor from New York City, stranded on a voluptuous tropical island with Quinn Harris, the grizzly charter plane pilot played with nice, casual aplomb by Harrison Ford. The circumstances of how these two landed on the island are so predictable that it will take you less time to guess them than it would take me to write them out in sentences—let it just be known that Friends' David Schwimmer (who I must say seems less appealing and more narrowly talented with each successive project) plays Heche's fiancé, who wonders from their rented bungalow on another tropical island-paradise why she hasn't returned from the photo shoot gig that was only supposed to call her away for a day.

Six Days, Seven Nights is as extreme a case of popcorn-movie wish fulfillment as can possibly be imagined. Excluding the brief exposition in New York City when Schwimmer surprises Heche with the getaway tickets, the entire story is played out between two lush oases, so that even those scenes that focus on Schwimmer's hangdog mopeyness (and his working out of a little Where's-My-Fiancé stress with Jacqueline Obradors' island gamine) do not require us to abandon the realm of palms, beaches, and margaritas which we have paid $7.50 to enjoy. Of course, the gradient in appeal between swarthy Ford and smarmy Schwimmer is as extreme as the comparative difference between the two island settings is minimal. It is a testament to Heche's remarkable skills as a potently intelligent screen presence and a delightfully dizzy comedienne that she can make Robin seem torn between her two romantic prospects without seeming to have a coconut for a brain. Her chemistry with Ford has enough of both sweetness and spice to animate their bickerings while marooned and to allow us to enjoy their gradual infatuation without making us grown at its sheer inevitability.

Even these likable stars, however, are pretty helpless against the sheer evanescence of this project. The humor, which lies almost exclusively in their banter and not at all in their situation, is itself the sort of comedy that is moment-to-moment and has difficulty building up much steam. The familiarity of the opposites-attract premise works against the movie taking on any life of its own, and the thinness of the premise, even though the movie gets the job done without waking up too much time, still has to stretch itself to such unlikely and uncompelling moments as Heche's pitfall into a subterranean tunnel system and a surprise attack by—arrgh—pirates! Do we still have pirates in the world, and why are they patrolling a deserted island? The only people who cared less than me were the pirates themselves, who amiably wander away as soon as their pursuit of Ford and Heche has successfully padded ten minutes onto this picture.

I didn't have any trouble watching Six Days, Seven Nights, but outside of Heche's limpid looks into Ford's face and a general aura of breezy inoffensiveness, I have more and more trouble recalling anything that happens in it. It'll be a perfect TV movie night in the bleak midwinter, and great as a travelogue for the South know, provided you don't show the part where the plane crashes. Like an amusement park ride (the water-slide perhaps?) taken with agreeable companions, the movie is a pleasurable experience that utterly resists making any lasting impression. If you can remember the names of three characters of five lines of dialogue after six days and seven nights, you've quite outdone yourself. C

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