6 Days, 7 Nights

How could spending two hours on a deserted beach with Harrison Ford turn out to be a bad thing? That’s the question I kept asking myself after sitting through the intolerable "6 Days, 7 Nights," a film so derivative and cloying you wonder why the box office giant would even agree to tackle such drivel. "6 Days, 7 Nights" wastes much more than a decent performance by Ford as a grizzled South Seas cargo pilot who winds up playing Robinson Crusoe to Anne Heche’s "Girl Friday."

Michael Browning’s screenplay, a blender mix of several other better films, becomes one clunky moment after another, directed with sledgehammer precision by Ivan Reitman, who should know better. What could have been a breezy romantic comedy falls flat on its face at every turn. It hurts to see Ford and Heche, who is the best thing about this misfire, try to punch their way through Browning’s lame dialogue. Pretty soon, the stars become punch drunk, and just sort of sit back and take in the scenery.

There’s lots of pretty scenery on view in "6 Days, 7 Nights." The film was shot on Kauai, Hawaii, standing in for Fiji and some uncharted island Ford and Heche eventually crash land on. Heche sparkles as Robin Monroe, the high-strung assistant magazine editor who needs a break from her hectic life on another island, Manhattan. Monroe gets that break when her long-suffering boyfriend Frank Martin (David Schwimmer in a one-note role that grates as much as finger nails on a chalkboard) whisks her off to a remote island paradise, and then proposes. Monroe is thrilled, but all play and no work makes her edgy, so she agrees to interrupt her vacation by flaying back to Fiji for a photo shoot with Vendella and Evander Holyfield.

It sounds funny, but it isn’t. Monroe has to depend upon Quinn Harris (Ford) and his prop plane to make the trip, a choice she makes reluctantly. When a freak storm (are there any other kind) downs the plane on a deserted, uncharted island, the two adversaries are thrown together in order to survive. The writer was obviously envisioning Hepburn and Tracy, Wayne and O’Hara, or even Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, whose jungle frolic "Romancing the Stone" his screenplay borrows heavily from.

The chemistry between Ford and Heche isn’t the problem. They are good together. You just wish Browning had giving them more to do than bicker and perform pratfalls that contradict the tone of the movie. The biggest problem is that neither the director or the writer took the time to flesh out the characters so they were more than one-dimensional. There isn’t one character in "6 Days, 7 Nights" who seems real enough to care about.

They’re all caricatures of other characters. Ford is the Humphrey Bogart character out of "African Queen," while Heche does an engaging Barbara Stanwyck. Back in Fiji, there’s false conflict as Frank and Quinn’s island paramour (a delicious Jacqueline Obradors) turn to each for comfort when they believe that their mates have perished. Browning tries to pump up the action by having Ford and Heche stumble across some nondescript sea pirates who chase them down in one of the film’s more embarrassing moments.

The chase leads to a high-cliff jump that’s reminiscent of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," and culminates with the couple in one of those "From Here to Eternity" embraces in the surf. Have these folks no shame? Even as fluff, "6 Days, 7 Nights" is light. The writer and director give us nothing to invest in. Despite the pretty scenery and decent leads, "6 Days, 7 Nights" feels much longer.


Harrison Ford, Anne Heche, David Schwimmer, Jacqueline Obradors in a film directed by Ivan Reitman. Rated PG-13. 101 Min.


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