So, to answer your question: Anne Heche’s noisy love affair with Ellen DeGeneres in no way interferes with her convincing portrayal of a hetero cutie in Six Days, Seven Nights (Touchstone). The camera adores her very blue eyes. Light bounces off of her white blond hair. With her narrow bottom and curvy top—woman to woman, your basic nightmare—she’s a sylphlike bundle of a girl. Han Solo could fit her in the cargo hold of his Millennium Falcon and hyper-drive her away for a dirty weekend on Endor.
The trouble is, Harrison Ford isn’t Han Solo in Ivan Reitman’s perfectly serviceable, utterly formulaic, completely biodegradable romantic-comedic adventure: Instead he’s Quinn Harris, a knockabout airplane pilot who lives on an Edenic island, ferrying tourists when he feels like it and boinking easygoing local women. Heche isn’t Princess Leia either: She’s Robin Monroe, a New York editorial type at a Cosmo-like women’s magazine, on a romantic holiday with her fiance (David Schwimmer). And she crashes on a deserted island with Quinn as they try to hop over to Tahiti, where Robin has been summoned, mid-vacation, to oversee a photo shoot.
So what we have here is a beat-up cowboy stranded with a nubile city kid. Quinn drinks. Robin chatters. (“Oooh. Some sort of creature has just swum up my pants!” she says, triggering Ellen-related unintentional laughs.) That Quinn and Robin develop a tropical hankering for one another may be a function of plot mathematics, but it sure ain’t based on their personality profiles. And this has nothing to do with details of Heche’s lesbian life broadcast in gossip-column headlines. At least Solo and Leia shared a baby-boom demographic and some common intergalactic interests.
Well then, let’s leave issues of casting aside for the moment. Let’s talk about archetypes. The profession of women’s-magazine editor is only the latest and trendiest shorthand way to signify a classic cinematic sexual heroine: sophisticated, a little snooty, tightly coiled, and in great need of—if not an outright roll in the South Pacific sand—at least the possibility of boinking, evident in the attentions of a sun-creased, my-oh-my man. As the two scramble to figure out a way off the island (with adversities plotted out as predictably as tides), Robin’s spunky, sometimes exhausting wiseacre commentary softens; she steals glances at the handsome, unshaven guy beside her, so different from her beau with the Vitalis-slicked hair. Hey, doesn’t Quinn remind her of Indiana Jones?
In fact, it’s no accident that portions of Six Days mildly echo some of Ford’s most popular films, from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Working Girl. Reitman—the prolific director of smooth comedy machines like Ghostbusters and Twins—is particularly effective at fine-tuning movie vehicles for aging male stars (look what he did for Robert Redford in Legal Eagles). The producer-director knows full well that 55-year-old Harrison Ford runs more slowly than he used to (see The Devil’s Own) and courts less comfortably (see Sabrina). Six Days lets Ford amble while 29-year-old Heche twitters around him, cajoling and reacting, a Tinkerbell of a castaway. At least her Robin has got the physical strength and good mental health to keep up her end of the escape, whacking away at underbrush, jumping off cliffs (in a very Butch Cassidy moment), and, in one of the more desperate story extenders, outwitting pirates. (Not for nothing do New York editors keep up their gym memberships.)
The final hurdle for this lurching entertainment (the first produced screenplay by Michael Browning) is in finding a reason to sever Robin’s allegiance to her boyfriend, so she can properly hang around her new daddy-aged beau. After all, it’s not as if her intended is anything less than an empathetic, affluent romantic; certainly she seemed to dig him when she first strapped on her seat belt. Six Days leans mighty unsteadily on an instance of infidelity as a symptom of premarital trouble. But just in case that doesn’t work, this sputtering prop plane of a movie makes use of one other all-too-familiar contemporary archetype: The Schwimmer. Cast that wimpy, whiny-boy Friends persona in a romance, and I don’t care how famously hetero or homosexual the female lead is: She’ll run right to the arms of whoever else is on the island, let the gossip columnists interpret what they may. C