An all-star cast enlivens this new adaptation of Mary Chase’s hilarious Pulitzer Prize winning comedy, led by Harry Anderson in the role of its unlikely hero, Elwood P. Dowd. This mild-mannered-but-eccentric bachelor has, for several years, happily kept company with Harvey, a six-foot–tall rabbit that only he can see. All’s well until Elwood’s social-climbing sister, Veta, (Swoosie Kurtz) and her teenage daughter, Myrtle Mae, come to live with him and fear his odd behavior will undermine their ambitions.
When Elwood disrupts the ladies’ first afternoon tea party by introducing wealthy Aunt Ethel Chauvenet to Harvey, Veta sees that something must be done right away. She takes compliant Elwood to the Chumley Rest Home, leaving him in the car while she tells a Dr. Sanderson all about Elwood and Harvey. Sanderson concludes that Veta is the psychotic one and has her carted off to be committed. Meanwhile, Elwood is treated with respect and dignity in light of his sister’s mental state.
When Dr. Chumley (Leslie Nielsen), head of the rest home, returns and hears of the case, he draws the opposite conclusion—that Elwood in fact hallucinates. After firing Sanderson for his misdiagnosis, Dr. Chumley sets out in pursuit of Elwood, completely forgetting poor Veta, who is left to manage her own escape from confinement in the home!
Harry Anderson is quite likable in his role as Elwood P. Dowd, a wealthy man who sees a bunny named Harvey who no one else can see and who is over six feet tall. He talks to Harvey too and reserves a spot for him at the dinner table. He talks to him in front of dinner guests, which embarrasses his sister Veta (Swoosie Kurtz) to no end. He even commissions a portrait to be made, with Harvey standing next to him. When Veta is mistaken to be the one who is imagining things, she it placed in a mental hospital, which leads to several funny moments as Elwood continues to be free to socialize with Harvey.
The film includes character growth as Veta realizes later on that her brother Elwood has an easy going, mild manner which she becomes concerned he will lose if he undergoes treatment. The acting is very good in the film, and it is a classic story. We gladly award our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal to this DVD. But watch out for big bunnies!