Within the universe of summer movies, "Six Days, Seven Nights" is respectable enough: Two appealing stars create sparks against a scenically lush backdrop, while requisite moments of crude humor and violent action erupt with assuring regularity.
Within the universe of movies in general, though, "Six Days, Seven Nights" sinks like a pretty stone, to be quickly forgotten once the next fluffy star vehicle takes its place. If lightness is the virtue of the definitive summer movie, instant disposability is its curse.
The premise of "Six Days, Seven Nights" immediately prevails upon filmgoers to abandon their gray matter for the greater purpose of mindless escapism: A prickly New York magazine editor (a type currently overtaking Arab Terrorist for most unsympathetic character in a movie), on vacation in the South Seas, finds herself stranded on a deserted island with a rough-hewn bush pilot. "The African Queen" in a thong or, for those on whom that reference is lost, "Romancing the Stone" redux.
And, as the stranded couple, Harrison Ford and Anne Heche almost succeed in capturing the fiery chemistry of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Sunburned and unshaven (stubble continuity must have been one of this film's most vexing technical problems), Ford reprises the gruffly sexy persona of his Han Solo days, with serviceable if unexciting results.
As Robin, a high-strung editor who is vacationing with her sweetly hangdog fiance (David Schwimmer, who is quickly wearing out his shtick), Heche displays the glamour, tart delivery and perfect timing of another era -- she just might be the modern equivalent of Claudette Colbert and Carole Lombard.
Both stars toss off their share of one-liners, although none quickly come to mind. Not only are the good parts of "Six Days, Seven Nights" forgettable (with the exception of Michael Chapman's scrumptious photography of island locales), but the filler material -- low-brow comedy and a telegraphed action sequence in which the couple's idyll is invaded by interlopers -- drags with predictable lassitude.
And all too often, the broad comedy is at the expense of the broads, in this case a hotel dancer who is drawn as a distressingly stereotyped Latina. "Eets a bathing suit, seely," she squeals at one point, holding up a tiny piece of fabric to the un-tiny expanse it is expected to cover.
True enough, but eet steel eesn't very funny.
'Six Days, Seven Nights'
Starring Harrison Ford, Anne Heche, David Schwimmer
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Rated PG-13 (language, sensuality and brief violence)
Released by Touchstone Pictures
Sun score ** 1/2
Pub Date: 6/12/98