HARVEY (1996) *1/2
"Harvey" is such a lost, mismatched comedy it hurts to see so many familiar faces on the big screen making fools of themselves. It isn't funny or touching. It has a firm first act: the problem is that a grown man, named Elwood P. Dowd, has an imaginary friend that is a six foot tall rabbit-similar to the Easter bunny-named Harvey. But the film doesn't know where to go from there. Where it takes us is though a series of coincidences and mistakes, all of which the plot is built upon, and throws consideration into the wind. Now, that's not to say the movie doesn't make us laugh, because there are several sequences in the film that are down right hysterical, proving that a movie can be successfully made about an imaginary six foot rabbit, but most of the funny scenes accrue during the first twenty minutes, for the one joke this film has gets stale after a while. And finally, after the laughs die down and the movie's insanity begins, it follows a steady path going down hill into ludicrous-ville.
The characters are cute and over-the-top, but too exaggerated. The character development is absent, as is the explanation of why Harvey exists, or where he logically came from (oh, come on, they don't actually think an audience is going to buy that "found him at the bottom of a light post" thing, do they)? There is a romantic sub-plot that is way out of place. And the actors are completely wasted. And get this: Leslie Nielsen, the Leslie Nielsen who stars in "Wrongfully Accused," is made out to be a dead-serious psychiatrist. The slapstick king stars as a man whose pastime is daydreaming of a private island where he can go to have women feel sorry for him. This film is ridiculous in its use of him.
Geared toward a family audience, "Harvey" is slow moving and boring at times, assuring a loss of interest by children-and adults at that. I guess we're supposed to become involved with Elwood's defense, because people thin he his a nutcase. Well, I too thought he was a nutcase. I was thinking to myself that this man is disturbed in the greatest, and I think I was supposed to be wondering why other "sane" people would not except him. Gee. I dunno?
There is a particularly bad scene in "Harvey" that not only proves my point about how bad the film is, but also make's public an obvious flaw that the majority of an audience would miss the first time watching it. It consists of Elwood's mother explaining to someone about how Harvey is always in the way. The family has to make a place for him at the dinner table, buy him, tickets to movies, make room for him on the couch. Now those things are funny. But why, dear reader, why, did they explain the misadventures of having Harvey as a family member instead of showing them to us? Well, at least the filmmakers were aware of their mistakes. Otherwise, they would have not make them know to so many.
PS. See how a movie uses Leslie Nielsen in appropriate ways by reading my "Wrongfully Accused," review @ http://comments.imdb.com/CommentsAuthor?Blake+French+(dlfspartan%40aol.com)/ us. Or by clicking on my name at the top of this review. I Think it will help you understand the failure of "Harvey's" use of him.