The Dream Team Review
This is one of those films you might have seen but cannot remember the name of – usually those that are shown on TV at around midnight. Ring any bells - Michael Keaton and Christopher Lloyd star; four clinical psycho’s are let loose on the streets of New York; pathological lying, ‘I’m Jesus’, tidiness, corrupt cops, men dressed up as chickens, and John Doe’s brother? It’s sort of three baby Cuckoo’s following the one that flew out of the nest.
Four patients from the Cedarbrook Psychiatric Hospital (Michael Keaton, Christopher Lloyd, Peter Boyle, and Stephen Furst), are heading to a baseball game with their doctor when they have to make an unexpected stop for Furst’s character Albert to go to the toilet. Leaving the rest of the patients in the van, the doctor takes Albert down an alleyway where he inadvertently witnesses a murder. The murderers in question knock the doctor out, but before they can kill their only witness, an onlooker scares them off. Now, the four patients are alone in the big city and they’ve got to deal with their problems whilst trying to find their doctor before the killers return to finish off what they started.
Plot isn’t big on director Howard Zieff’s list of priorities in making this film, to the point where the protagonist’s goal becomes a large grey area boats and ships have been known to disappear in. Zieff makes the decision, and ultimately it is the right one, to concentrate on the characters. The premise – four mental patients are left to fend for themselves in the big city, is what the film hangs on, and the director and writer’s Jon Connolly and David Loucka string together sketch-like skits with their looney’s reacting to a world that doesn’t understand them. This causes the pace to lag at times, especially when the jokes aren’t hitting their targets, but more often than not the comedy works well, the one-liners especially, so it doesn’t become a major problem. Zieff manages screen time between the four major characters with assurance, but a little too much unneeded sentimentality here and there drags things down.
The film is at its best when the actors are working with material that suits their comedic talents. While Stephen Furst is the only one of the group that doesn’t really register – his refusal to speak in anything other than baseball commentary, grates the more you hear it, Keaton is wonderfully sarcastic - ‘What sort of cop would send four confessed mental patients, back out on to the streets?’, and he tells a shop assistant that the four of them are part of a crack team of commandoes tracking Libyan terrorists. Lloyd rushes around like a comic book character given a real life and has some hilarious stand-out moments, namely when he’s in a bar and can’t understand why the people around him won’t ‘clean up their areas’ before getting thrown out and shouting ‘Would someone please take me back to my room!’ Peter Boyle almost steals the show when he goes into a church and tells the congregation he’s the son of God while taking all his clothes off, and later, when they’re in a hospital he tells an old patient who is lying on a bed ‘arise and walk my son’, to which the old man obliges and collapses on the floor.
The Dream Team has its flaws, but it’s an enjoyable comedy nonetheless. Keaton (Christ, he’s going to piss all over the back seat Doc. We’re gonna need a canoe to float out of here!’), Lloyd (‘Could you recommend a good clinical psychiatrist in the neighbourhood, we seemed to have lost ours’), and Boyle (I’m a friend of all men. We’ve come for your money Ed!’), are excellent in their respective roles and it is them who make this film worth watching.
The image is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and anamorphic enhanced. Overall, the picture is very good displaying a clean and detailed image, with true colour reproduction and good contrast. The print used is in reasonable condition with only a small amount of grain that is never overly apparent, and some specks of dirt here and there.
The English Dolby Digital 2.0 track is nothing special but it does its job. Dialogue is clear and well separated across the front channels, but only music gives the sound a fuller feel, with ambient sounds located again in the front speakers.
Theatrical Trailer - Presented in open-matte 4:3, some of the best one-liners are featured here – it’s certainly enticing. There are also some recommendations but no trailers to go with them.
Fans of any of the principle actors should find something to like here, in this enjoyable, feel good comedy. Universal have produced a decent, if barebones release.