Six Days, Seven Nights

Jun 17, 1998 at 12:00 am

Increasingly in Hollywood, a "summer movie" equals frivolous escapism: sit back, relax in the air conditioning, shut off your brain and enjoy a vicarious adventure. Six Days, Seven Nights (whose very title suggests a vacation) wants nothing more than to be that escape.

In wintry New York City, Frank Martin (David Schwimmer) shows his girlfriend Robin Monroe (Anne Heche) a brochure for a tropical island paradise. When they actually arrive in the South Seas idyll of Makatea, and it looks exactly like the photograph, everything's set for a yuppie romantic fantasy. The only hurdle they encounter is having to take a small airplane piloted by Quinn Harris (Harrison Ford). Neither the aircraft nor the pilot look too reliable, and the other passenger, the bubbly (and bubble-brained) dancer, Angelica (Jacqueline Obradors), seems like a potentially dangerous distraction.

But everything about this dream vacation seems to run smoothly until Robin -- a fast-talking, hyperambitious editor at a "women's" magazine -- is called on to supervise a photo shoot in nearby Tahiti, and hires Quinn to fly her there. A fierce storm and crash landing later, this prickly pair find themselves stranded on an impossibly beautiful deserted island (actually the Hawaiian island of Kauai) where they soon discover the wonderfulness of each other.

Michael Browning's formula screenplay charts their unlikely romance using one part Romancing the Stone (there's adventure galore, even pirates) and one part Gilligan's Island (they never get lost and miraculously locate everything they need). Directed with workmanlike precision by Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Dave, Father's Day), this determinedly old-fashioned claptrap succeeds on its own unambitious terms.

A laid-back Harrison Ford, looking weathered but not worn, and a wound-up Anne Heche, who embodies the word "spunky," actually make a nicely offbeat couple in a screwball comedy kind of way. But dependent as Six Days, Seven Nights is on the audience's willful suspension of disbelief, thinking too much about what these two iconoclasts will be like six months down the road (most likely at each other's throats) is to break the fragile, insubstantial spell this movie weaves.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail her at [email protected].