Film discussion

Throwback 20: Six Days, Seven Nights

Perhaps it was very bad timing that Ivan Reitman’s Six Days, Seven Nights opened right between Bulworth and The Truman Show, two of the 90’s best movies. Then again, Six Days, Seven Nights would have been bad no matter when it opened.

Harrison Ford plays Quinn Harris, a boozy, freight pilot who’s hired by fashion-journalist (Anne Heche) to fly her and her fiancé Frank (David Schwimmer) to Makatea for a romantic vacay. During her first night there, Monroe receives a call from her New York boss (Alison Janney) asking her to fly to Tahiti to oversee a fashion shoot for the VOGUE-like magazine they work for.

Robin offers Quinn $700 to fly her to the shoot so they decide to leave that evening. It’s too bad they never bothered to turn on the weather network or anything because they take off during a major thunderstorm which forces the plane to crash. Now two people who don’t like each other are forced to spend all the time with each other.

I’m sure Ford and Heche got along okay enough during filming but there is absolutely no romantic connection between these two. NONE. Ford is one of the great actors of our time and he can generate intense chemistry with female co-stars (Carrie Fisher, Karen Allen, Kelly McGillis, Alison Doody, Greta Scaachi, Michelle Pfeiffer) but in this movie, it doesn’t happen.

The only moments displaying  any kind of spark between these two occur the morning after the crash. For five minutes, the two deliver verbal barbs at each other that are actually witty. It’s the only honest moment between the two characters in this whole movie. She sees herself above his station in life and he sees her as an annoyance with cash to throw everywhere. Until she asks for the cash back. Then he just sees her as an annoyance. This itself is an annoyance to the audience because we know these actors are capable of much more but in this movie they’re not given it.

Take for example, the first five minutes of Six Days, Seven Nights. Heche’s character,  Robin Monroe, emerges from a New York subway during a blustery winter day like she owns the city.  Then we see her at work given directives, throwing out ideas and concepts at her co-workers because she’s smart and bright.

I hope you enjoy that character at the beginning of this movie, because for the next 90 minutes we don’t see her again. The minute she’s stuck on that island with Ford, she becomes a klutzy ditz. No really. The first thing she does when emerging from the  downed plane is FALL FLAT ON HER FACE! This is what the writer/director think is funny?

It doesn’t get any better as Monroe accidentally inflates a raft inside the plane, smushing her face up against a window like a stuffed Garfield suctioned to a car window. And of course the only things she can say are “mmmmmph” sounds.

It actually gets worse. For the rest of the movie  you can practically imagine Reitman’s off-to-the-side camera direction saying things like: “Ok, Anne, now let Harrison take you by the hand so you can follow HIM through the jungle for the next 60 minutes. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Also run into that lake because it’s WET T-SHIRT SHIRT time! Yeah!”

At one point, Ford reaches down in Heche’s pants (complete with that classic Harrison Ford side smirk) to retrieve a snake that crawled up there. If this was an Indiana Jones movie, he’d be the one screaming about snakes and she’d be rescuing him from them – but not by reaching down his pants to do it.

The filmmakers had to throw in a completely unnecessary sub-plot involving some kind of island pirate gang. The lead baddie, Jager (Temuera Morrison) captures the two main characters who of course, easily escape by jumping off a 200 foot (!) cliff into the water. Just because this stunt worked for Harrison in The Fugitive, doesn’t mean he needed to repeat it.

Why do these movies  always show their biggest stunts in slow motion? Imagine for a minute Indiana Jones racing that large boulder in very slow motion at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark? Yeah. Not so exciting now, is it? Yet, directors like Reitman feel this is fun to watch. It’s not. A few of the early Roger Moore Bond’s did this as well and there’s a reason those movies are considered the worst ones in the franchise.

The rest of the movie is so dumb it’s hardly worth recapping. Quinn and Robin basically spend the rest of the movie running around the island with their shirts open and I honestly can’t remember if they even say anything – which at this point is just as well.  There’s more excitement in a game of Pitfall (and to think – this movie was photographed by the fantastic Michael Chapman of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull).

While the Ford/Heche stuff is happening, the movie switches back to Schwimmer’s character and I wish to God it hadn’t. All he does is stare at Quinn’s hottie girlfriend Angelica and – well, you know where that was going.

Schwimmer plays Frank as if he’s Ross on vacation with Marcel the Monkey from Friends. He looks miserable – which is saying something considering how miserable Ross was all the time. Jacqueline Obradors plays Angelica, Quinn’s flesh-baring girlfriend. Yes, Angelica bares her flesh – a lot and that’s about it.

Six Days, Seven Nights was made during Ford’s mid-life crises phase and everything from his spiky hairstyle to his look-at-my-hottie-girlfriend-who’s-young-enough-to-be-my-daughter screams it. This is disheartening when you consider that just one year earlier, Ford portrayed one of the most mature, level-headed, intelligent and admirable characters of his career in Air Force One. If you’re in the mood to watch an exciting, smart, incredibly-acted, expertly-directed and thrilling Harrison Ford movie from the late-90’s, watch that one. As for Six Days, Seven Nights, it’s going to take me that long to get it out of my head by watching much, much better movies.

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