Picks and Pans Review: The Dream Team

updated 04/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Michael Keaton, Christopher Lloyd

Here's a comedy concept all America has been waiting for. Four guys from a New Jersey psychiatric hospital are going to a ball game with their doctor. Since this is New York, the doctor gets attacked, leaving his charges alone on the mean streets. Since this is an impossibly earnest comedy, the four redeem their self-respect in a series of Manhattan misadventures that once would have befallen sailors on a 24-hour leave. Yes, it's On the Town Meets One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. Pathological liar Michael Keaton causes a commotion in a restaurant. Control freak Christopher Lloyd returns to his estranged family. Peter Boyle indulges his messiah complex before the dazed congregation of a black Baptist church. Schizoid Stephen Furst learns to speak in something other than baseball lingo.

This is a lunatic concept that isn't nearly lunatic enough. Director Howard (Private Benjamin) Zieff lacks the visionary zeal that would make the film as off-center as its heroes. If you're making a comedy about crazies, why make it as pedestrian as this? With the clever Keaton in the Jack Nicholson role as Ringleader of the Irrational, the film delivers its quota of jokes, although for a screenwriter, New York life these days is a sure thing. In a sense, The Dream Team is an audience's Rorschach: How many laughs anyone finds in it will be in direct proportion to how willing one is to laugh at an incongruous comedy about mental illness. (PG-13)

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