“Six Days, Seven Nights” is a passable romantic comedy in which enforced proximity makes the heart grow fonder. Sprinkled with just enough laughs, close shaves and compromising positions to keep audiences mildly interested, this old-fashioned popcorn picture is agreeably breezy and colorful, but lacks the pizzazz and star chemistry of a genre ancestor such as “Romancing the Stone.” B.O. looks to be sturdy, if not stellar, for this well-tooled, utterly mainstream entertainment, and much-bruited concern about public acceptance of Anne Heche as a romantic heroine should become a moot point, since she’s the best thing in the picture.
Star Harrison Ford has downgraded airplanes from last summer’s “Air Force One” to a single-prop puddle jumper here. He plays a South Pacific cargo pilot who becomes stranded on a deserted island with a neurotic, high-powered New York magazine editor. This sort of initially antagonistic attraction between opposites has been done by Hollywood countless times before, often far better but sometimes worse, and pic’s ultimate effect is as ephemeral as an ocean breeze.
Gotham-set opening swiftly establishes Robin Monroe (Heche) as a workaholic associate editor of a Cosmo-like mag who is whisked off by her b.f. of three years, Frank (David Schwimmer), for a week’s vacation on a remote, paradisiacal isle. Once there, Frank asks Robin to marry him, and she happily accepts. But, career girl that she is, Robin cannot refuse an emergency assignment on an all-important one-day photo shoot in nearby Tahiti, and she enlists the help of island rat Quinn Harris (Ford) to fly her there in his old DeHavilland Beaver.
But a quickly materializing squall intervenes, and Quinn is forced to ditch the plane on a beach on an unknown island, wrecking the landing gear in the process. Stuck until good fortune or a search party smiles upon them, Quinn and Robin have got to try to make the best of it, which isn’t easy at first since she alternates near-hysteria with pratfalls and such blunders as blowing up their life raft inside the plane’s tiny cabin and firing their only flare into a palm tree.
Things become physical when Robin gets a snake up her pants in a pool of water and insists that Quinn get it out. But that’s about as risque as things get — until Frank starts spending a lot of time at the hotel bar worrying and commiserating with Quinn’s island sexpot g.f., Angelica (Jacqueline Obradors) between search missions for their missing mates. Through it all, the moral fiber of the engaged partners is sorely tested.
Just when it appears that Robin is too irremediably urban to cope with the Robinson Crusoe lifestyle, she starts coming around, pitching in to prove herself to Quinn, who immodestly admits that he is “not without skills” as a resourceful survivalist, and even saving his neck when some modern-day pirates track them down. Relationship threatens to blossom sexually when they roll on the beach after surviving a “Butch Cassidy”-like plunge into the water from a high cliff, but Robin is engaged, after all, and Quinn is too much the gentleman to push it.
After a few days, the search is called off, the natives at the resort hold a ceremonial funeral, and Frank and Angelica are left to bury their sorrows together. By now, Quinn and Robin are really getting along, as the can-do flier devises a way to strip the pontoons from an old Japanese war plane and attach them to his craft for an attempted takeoff.
First-time scenarist Michael Browning’s script generates mild conflict and a few laughs as it follows in the wake not only of “Romancing the Stone” also such other two-handers as “The African Queen” and “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.” But with dialogue that is hardly memorable and characters that are far from indelible, there is only so much director Ivan Reitman can do to make this concoction really fizz.
Ford and Heche make a tolerable team — not one that audiences are bound to become invested in heavily, but decent enough company for the quick, bouncy ride the film provides. As it is in the current “Bulworth” and has been in previous pictures, age difference between the two leads is jokingly addressed, with Quinn whispering his age to Robin but insisting he’s still got what it takes. Ford is predictably assured and light on his feet but not all that interesting in the part, while Heche is the live wire who keeps things sparking to the limited extent that they do.
By contrast, Schwimmer delivers annoyingly one-note shtick as Robin’s fiance, who proves easily distracted by the abundant charms of Angelica, living proof of the rumor that island girls have no hang-ups. Obradors is easy on the eyes in this role, the only other supporting part of note.
Shot mainly on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, pic has the lush look expected of such fare. But there are too many shots in which the sky has obviously been computer enhanced, and the film is almost quaint in the way the artificiality of studio-shot scenes contrasts with location work; a nocturnal beach sequence under a star-studded sky reminds of countless campfire scenes in Westerns in which the cowboys came inside after a day on the range.