Six Days, Seven Nights (1998)

Directed by Ivan Reitman

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Six Days, Seven Nights is essentially Frank Capra’s Cast Away, combining the trapped on an island plot with the romantic comedy of It Happened One Night.  Like with that movie the two romantic leads must first hate each other in order to establish that fine line which then gives way to love.

The worst sin in a movie like this seems to be apathy.  Robin Monroe (Anne Heche) is a hardworking fashion magazine journalist from New York City who goes on a rare vacation with her boyfriend Frank Martin (David Schwimmer more or less playing his character Ross from Friends) to Makatea, a small tropical island.  There they come across a drunken, carefree pilot named Quinn (Harrison Ford).  His laissez-faire attitude conflicts with Robin’s hands on, big city nature, but of course they will soon fall in love when the story forces them together.

Frank will propose to her, and she will say yes, but it’s clear from the get go that he is a slimy, toxic masculinity-riddled, privileged character who is only there to demonstrate what a bad man looks like.  This is all so that Harrison Ford, playing a combination of every Indiana Jones/Jack Ryan/Han Solo he’s ever played, can show us what a real man looks like.  At least that seems to be the intention.

These characters soon find themselves stuck on a wonderfully deserted island where the supposed life and death stakes are replaced by something much more innocent and harmless.  Their new retreat looks like the stage set of a broadway adaptation of Gilligan’s Island, and the biggest question has to do with whether or not they will get together and if so, how soon.  They will never go long without food or substantial shelter, and soon the movie introduces murderous pirates just to up the stakes, as if being stranded on a desert island wouldn’t normally be enough.

The movie is silly, but it’s silly in an old Hollywood kind of way.  It can be fun if you let it, and even David Schwimmer’s character, even if he’s just a foil to Harrison Ford, gets some material to play around with.

Ford and Heche have enough chemistry to make the movie a joy to watch, and Ford is famous enough to carry the gravitas of his biggest roles into this one.  This at times works as a shortcut to establish his character based on mostly common knowledge, but it also works to subvert our expectations of the typical masculine hero, albeit in a way many romantic comedies of these sorts do, where it’s meant to seem wildly inventive and hilarious that the man we think of as Indiana Jones is now lying drunk on a beach.

So at once this movie does everything by the book but does it well enough.  It’s a cute story that is truly atrocious if you have any meaningful expectations for it but is really quite pleasing and easy to watch if you know it’s headed nowhere to begin with.

Six Days, Seven Nights presents you with the best case scenario for finding yourself stranded on a. desert island: nice weather and with a possible love interest.  The rest borrows from Gen X popular culture, mainly big city “yuppies” and the same kind of energy/characters you see in Friends and movies like You’ve Got Mail.  It takes these career-focused busy bodies and peels back the layers to help remind them that what’s important in life has less to do with stock options, Starbucks and 60 hour work weeks and more to do with good honest living.  How well this sentiment was executed is up to you, but that’s the sentiment nonetheless.  It’s a dynamic that deals with what is and might’ve already been then a trope of the career-focused woman whose job commitments interfere with her love life.  These types of characters are forced to decide between work and family/romance, a decision their male counterparts aren’t forced to make.

Up Next: Rampage (2018), First Man (2018), The Old Man & the Gun (2018)

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