'Six Days' has the laughs, but short on the amour
"Six Days, Seven Nights" is a romantic comedy that's comes up short on the romance.
Now, I know people are going to try to pin this on Anne Heche because of the lesbian thing, but it's not her fault. She can do romantic comedy. In 1996 she was delightfully hetro in a funny little getting-married comedy called "Walking and Talking," which nobody saw.
In "Six Days, Seven Nights" she's delightful as a stressed-out New York fashion editor who crashes in a small plane on a tropical island with cranky pilot Harrison Ford.
They have witty and acidic adversarial banter -- by far the movie's high point -- but they're supposed to be reluctantly falling for each other, and I just don't hear their hearts going pitter-pat.
Maybe it's the September-May factor, or maybe it's that Ford just isn't all that good at romance (e.g. "Sabrina").
But there's no point in squabbling about the lack of chemistry, because even without it, this movie is a kick.
Taken as sparring individuals, and not as an inevitable couple, Ford and Heche come through with the laughs in this "Gilligan's Island" meets "Father Goose" lark.
Heche stars as a balls-in-the-air gal trying to relax on a getaway with her fiance, played by David Schwimmer ("Friends"), who has toned down the dork factor for this role.
They travel to an island resort by way of a rickety charter plane piloted by Ford, who is largely in his element as the kind of cantankerous, unpolished hedonist that Han Solo might have become at age 55.
A charmingly brusque loner type who drinks and mouths off to his nervous passengers, he and Heche quickly build a lively animosity, which only escalates when a day later she is called away from her vacation by her magazine, and needs Ford to take her off the island for a one-day photo shoot in Tahiti.
Cue the lightning storm, and down goes the plane on the uninhabited jungle island.
Director Ivan Reitman, whose track record has been pretty shaky of late ("Father's Day," "Space Jam"), knows just what to do here and he draws the next two acts straight from the screwball comedy textbook, with adequately enjoyable results.
Heche (who isn't exactly the outdoor type) and Ford (who is), obligingly snip at each other while trying to find a way off the island. She tries signaling an out-of-range commercial airliner with their only flare. He hunts wild peacocks for dinner (insert "tastes like chicken" joke here) and tries to repair the plane.
They also have an raucous run-in with modern pirates who put in to a cove on the island. Yes, there are still pirates, and apparently they're the maritime equivalent of carjackers, swiping yachts and deep-sixing the owners.
Meanwhile, distraught and morally weak Schwimmer is trying, and failing, to resist the advances of Ford's hot-to-trot girlfriend, a giggly, jiggly, young hula bimbo.
(Regardless of whether you like Schwimmer or hate him -- I don't think there's any middle ground on this issue -- the man has perfected the art of the reaction shot. Watch for the double-take when the girl drops her top.)
"Six Days, Seven Nights" has its share of obtrusive plot holes, Reitman's signature slapstick, and cliche jungle gags. And there is the conspicuously absent sexual tension. But while Ford doesn't hold a candle to Cary Grant's almost identical character in "Father Goose" (a similar movie from 1964), he and Heche are both talented enough actors to endeavor to overcome their romantic incompatibility with some quality animosity that makes the film fun anyway.
Composer Randy Edelman also deserves some of the credit for his energetic score that really punches up the island adventure episodes.