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Apocalypse Now: Redux

There are 10 reasons not to miss Apocalypse Now: Redux at the theater —Richard Sharp (review...)

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6 Days lacks originality. The whole thing is unabashedly made from a cookie cutter. In this type of formula movie there is a danger that you might be bored while “clever” moviegoers next to you predict dialogue and actions. On the other hand, this type of film never has any real danger of being utterly awful. It’s a safe bet for a summer movie; disposable, lightweight, and a decent distraction for two hours.

Robin (Anne Heche) is on a tropical vacation with her potential fiancé (David Schwimmer) when she is called away, just for 18 hours, to take care of a project at work. The only pilot she can find is the coarse unrefined drunkard (Harrison Ford) who flew her in. Halfway back to her job, a storm comes up and causes them to crash on a deserted island. The two have to set up house long enough for the search and rescue crew to find them.

Robin thinks Quinn (Ford) is uncouth and Quinn thinks Robin is a stuck-up prig. Naturally, they fall in love. Meanwhile, Frank (Schwimmer) and Quinn’s busty companion Angelica (Jacqueline Obradors), distraught over the possible deaths of their loved ones, seek solace in each other’s arms. Everything works out perfectly for the great square dance of romantic comedy (don’t forget the false endings!).

Still, the movie is pretty enjoyable, rated just above your average romantic comedy. The first redeeming factor is the casting. Ford and Heche have a pretty good chemistry. It’s not a sexual chemistry; it’s their banter and their complementary strong wills that make them a good pair. Ford is showing his age, but he still looks good, and he’s got that grin that makes him perfect for this movie. Heche holds her own against Ford, and thankfully, her part was written just right. She was not a helpless porcelain woman, nor was she a cold fish in need of thawing out. (Ugh, I just quoted Lost in Space. Somebody kick me.)

The dialogue is well written and well suited to the characters. There is a scene in which a snake swims up Robin’s shorts. Quinn comes to her aid, but he doesn’t just pull the thing out. The two stand hip-deep in water and talk about the situation for a while. Each moment they delay is another moment of tension, broken by a funny line, a double entendre, or a charming smirk. Yet in spite of this obviously contrived situation, the humor never seemed forced.

Another redeeming factor was the location and cinematography. The film was shot on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, which allowed for lots of great travelogue cinematography. In fact, this movie made me realize how rewarding outdoor location shooting is and how rare it has become. Veteran cinematographer Michael Chapman was not afraid to dwarf the characters with the scenery. Often our heroes are small dots on a lush beautiful landscape. I found myself surprised by how many medium and long shots there were in this film, which probably goes to show that I have become used to the cheaper technique of using a single long shot cutting straight to a closeup. Chapman broke from that trend and it really paid off.

Finally, I was pleased that the movie had a good heart. Frank and Angelica, (Quinn and Robin’s counterparts) were nice, likeable people. They were not jealous or selfish or greedy. Sometimes a film will make the old boyfriend/girlfriend insanely jealous or cruel so that we can root for the heroes to end up together. Instead, Reitman allowed the circumstances make us root for the heroes to fall in love. The old lovers had their flaws, but they weren’t reduced to two-dimensional villains.

6 Days is no instant classic, in spite of the qualities it has going for it. But these qualities do help lift a formulaic plot from mediocre to enjoyable. It’s not original, but it’s a decent distraction for two hours.