'Six Days' Sputters at Takeoff

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

'Six Days, Seven Nights" is billed as a romantic adventure. But with director Ivan Reitman guiding the tour, you know a boatload of gags can't be far away, even if Harrison Ford - not exactly a comedy specialist - is its main box-office draw.

Sure enough, the movie announces its comic intentions almost as soon as David Schwimmer proposes to Anne Heche that they celebrate their betrothal by escaping wintery Manhattan for a week of faraway sunshine.

The pilot of their island-hopping plane (Ford) turns out to be a goofy guy who cares more about lowdown pleasure than high-flying professionalism. Several plot twists and a thunderstorm later, he and Heche are forced to crash-land on an isolated island. There they pepper each other with wisecracks, flee the clutches of modern-day pirates, and - surprise! - fall battily in love with each other. Meanwhile the abandoned boyfriend mourns his fiance's disappearance for about two seconds, then falls into the arms of a tropical temptress.

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"Six Days, Seven Nights" labors mightily to be a frolicsome entertainment, but the results are - well, labored. The dialogue isn't snappy, the story isn't surprising, there's little chemistry between the stars, and you can't help wondering whether people undergoing an ordeal like this would really think about sex every single minute, even in a Hollywood movie.

Disney's decision to market "Six Days, Seven Nights" by emphasizing thrills over laughter suggests that the film's own studio recognized its clunkiness in the humor department. Reitman has struck comic gold with bygone crowd-pleasers like "Dave" and the "Ghostbusters" pictures, so he'll surely bounce back with a really amusing project before long. For now, this is a vacation moviegoers can afford to miss.

* Rated PG-13; contains violence and sexual innuendo.

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