Six Days Seven Nights

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson


Disney, widescreen 2.35:1, languages: English DD 5.1 [CC], French Digital Stereo, subtitles: none, single side-single layer, 23 chapters, theatrical trailer, rated PG-13, 102 min., $29.99, street date 12/8/98.

Studio Line

Directed by Ivan Reitman. Starring Harrison Ford, Anne Heche, David Schwimmer, Jacqueline Obradors, Temuera Morrison, Allison Janney.

He's a cargo pilot who is heading up another carefree, easy-money plane trip from one island to the next. She's a New York magazine editor who has planned a relaxing holiday in a tropical wonderland. However, nature plots a decidedly different course for these two when an unexpected storm squall forces them to crash land on an uncharted island. With no plane, no communication and no patience for each other, neither is prepared for the exhausting, exhilarating adventure that awaits them in Touchstone Pictures' romantic adventure, Six Days, Seven Nights.

Harrison Ford stars as Quinn Harris, a rough hewn aviator living an uncomplicated existence in Paradise. Content with the comfortable living he makes flying freight in his weather-beaten old plane, Quinn's life is just the way he wants it ... until he meets Robin Monroe (Anne Heche). She's a sharp, driven, magazine editor on holiday with her new fiance Frank Martin (David Schwimmer). When an unexpected editorial deadline requires Robin to be in Tahiti, she reluctantly bribes Quinn to fly her there.

Forced down in a storm, the two suddenly find themselves stranded on a deserted island. Danger and romance ensue as the two castaways are thrown into a series of adventures not found in any vacation brochure.

Picture/Sound/Extras (A/A/D-)

One intriguing question that surrounds films concerns the reasons why Anne Heche has failed to become much of a star. It's been nearly three years since she earned her dubious fame as Ellen DeGeneres' girlfriend, and Heche has since appeared in a variety of different movies. None of these did very well at the box office and though she's filled many of that kind of role, she doesn't seem to have realized much acceptance as a leading lady sort.

How come? Well, many people would attribute this to her well-known "lifestyle choice," and they may be correct. How willing are audiences to accept a famed lesbian in romantic situations with men? I have no idea.

All I do know is that factor doesn't influence me at all. However, that doesn't mean I care for Heche as a leading lady; my opinion stems from different places, though. For me, she doesn't work in these roles just because I don't find her to be an attractive presence. She's not an ugly woman, but her looks are quite unappealing to me; that whole pixie-elf thing is a big turnoff. I had a hard time accepting her in Psycho, for instance, just because I couldn't believe that anyone sees her as this stunning beauty.

Also, Heche's skills don't seem well-suited for leading lady parts. She's actually very talented, but she appears best suited for parts as a comic sidekick or in screwball comedies; romance and drama aren't her forte. She seems custom fit for supporting roles such as the one she portrayed in Wag the Dog.

1998's Six Days, Seven Nights is the highest grossing film in which Heche has starred, but I'd dare say that occurred despite her, not because of her. A big-budget action-comedy starring Harrison Ford and directed by Ivan Ghostbusters Reitman, the film made a disappointing $74 million, which was only about $4 more than its budget. Did this happen just because the movie was a lackluster attempt at a romantic comedy or was it due to the presence of Heche? I really think it's the latter reason.

In any case, SDSN is actually a reasonably entertaining little film. It's incredibly predictable as it takes the well-worn "opposites attract" premise and beats it into submission, and the movie lacks much plot. Even at only 102 minutes, it seems overly long and one can see the desperate attempts by the filmmakers to add to the story; one subplot that involves pirates - that's right, pirates - appears utterly gratuitous and seems included just to pad out the films length.

Still, I found SDSN to be eminently watchable and fairly engaging. For one, it was nice to see Ford play a role closer to his Han Solo/Indiana Jones roots. He's become an overly earnest bore in recent year so I liked the fact that he portrays a lovable scoundrel here. I won't for a second argue that his work competes with the highs he accomplished in his more famous roles, but I still found Ford to offer a fun and lively presence.

Heche gets about half of her job done. She handles the comedic parts with aplomb but fails poorly in the romantic sections. There's virtually no chemistry between her and Ford, so all of those scenes fall flat. Were a more attractive actress involved, I might be able to imagine the chemistry better, but since I can't comprehend why anyone would find Heche intriguing or stimulating, these scenes didn't work for me.

Make no mistake: Six Days, Seven Nights does not offer a memorable or exciting experience. Nonetheless, it's a decent and watchable little movie that can succeed when one craves some gentle entertainment.

Six Days, Seven Nights appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While that omission is regrettable, SDSN nonetheless offers an absolutely fantastic picture.

Frankly, the image looks incredible from start to finish, with almost no flaws. It always seems razor sharp but little edge enhancement appears; I noticed some very minor jagged edges and moire effects a few times, but nothing that even remotely approached significance. Probably the greatest flaw with this DVD involves the print used; while it generally looked clean and presented no scratches, hairs, or grain, I did see some speckles and white spots on occasion. These aren't prevalent or serious, but they occur frequently enough to qualify as an issue.

Colors are outstanding. As one would assume, the tropical setting provides a wide variety of sumptuous hues, and the DVD reproduces them beautifully; the jungle seems lush and opulent. Black levels are very deep and rich, and shadow detail appears clear and appropriately dense. If the print had lacked the speckles and spots, this one would have been an "A+." As it stands, it qualifies as a very strong "A."

Also excellent is the film's Dolby Digital 5.1 track. It lacks much flash but makes up for that with consistently solid and realistic sound. It's really a quite engrossing mix, especially in its use of Randy Edelman's appropriately percussive score; it uses all five channels very actively and brings the audio to life. Effects are also well localized, though they blend together nicely and create a strong atmosphere from all five speakers. Again, the mix doesn't completely bowl you over, but it nonetheless creates a very good three-dimensional soundstage.

As well-executed as that aspect was, the reason this mix earned an "A" was its quality. Frankly, dialogue was the weakest part of the track. It sounded good but seemed slightly flat at times; I think much of it was dubbed, which added this quality. Still, it's always clear and easily understood. Effects and music, however, are very rich and full-blooded. This honker pumped out some very nice bass, especially whenever a plane would fly by us. I don't have a subwoofer, but I felt this track more frequently than the vast majority of movies. The strong low end didn't sacrifice clarity or accuracy, however; music and effects seemed crisp and detailed. All in all, it's a terrific-sounding mix.

The only area in which this DVD fails regards its supplements. We get a trailer, and that's it. Too bad, because some extras could have made this a great disc.

However, the movie still wouldn't be much more than average, so Six Days, Seven Nights is a hard DVD to really recommend. I liked the film well enough but it definitely isn't anything more than mildly amusing and entertaining. While the DVD offers no supplements, the excellent picture and sound are nearly unbeatable. Still, this one seems best suited for a rental.

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