Dr. Jeff Weitzman (Dennis Boutsikaris) is a psychologist working in a sanitarium in New Jersey. His primary patients are Billy, Henry, Jack and Albert. Billy (Keaton) is the most normal of the group and their unofficial leader, though he is a pathological liar with delusions of grandeur and violent tendencies. Henry (Lloyd) is obsessive/compulsive and he has deluded himself into thinking he is one of the doctors at the hospital, often walking around with a clipboard, lab coat and stethoscope. Jack (Boyle) is a former advertising executive who believes he is Jesus Christ. Finally, Albert (Furst) is a man-child who only says things he hears during baseball games, particularly from former ball player and commentator Phil Rizzuto.
Convinced that his patients need some fresh air and some time away from the sanitarium, Dr. Weitzman persuades the administration to allow him to take them to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, he accidentally encounters two crooked cops just as they murder another officer. The doctor then gets knocked unconscious trying to get away and is put in the hospital. The group is now stranded in New York City, forced to cope with a place which is often more bizarre than their sanitarium. One of the both comic and serious plot twists is that the inmates have to listen to Albert's baseball jargon in order to get clues as to what happened to Dr. Weitzman, because he is the only one who witnessed it (he is just afraid to say it because of his catatonic condition). Two other running gags throughout the film are: Henry's threats to report psychologically disturbing behavior of the other patients (never realizing his own problems until near the end); and Billy's violent, unpredictable but ultimately harmless behavior in several different scenarios. A lesser gag is Jack, in his persona as Jesus Christ, causing a rousing sermon at a black church, only for the parishioners to come to their senses and expel him (without any clothes), and the other three patients get Jack new (albeit garish) clothes from an army surplus store.
After Dr. Weitzman's beating and coma, it is up to the patients to save their doctor from being murdered by the crooked cops. They end up having to both use and overcome their delusions and disorders in order to save the only man who ever tried to help them, with both the police and the killers looking for them. Three revisit scenes from their pasts: Billy (former girlfriend Riley, played by Lorraine Bracco), Henry (his wife & daughter), and Jack (his former employer). As each patient does so individually, they each behave in a sane, clear manner, Henry genuinely missing his family, Billy wishing to pursue a stronger relationship, and Jack appealing to his boss that he and his friends are in trouble (but the boss reports Jack to the police).
Throughout the film there are minor scenes showing the interaction between the two crooked police officers (Philip Bosco and James Remar) and what their plans are in framing the patients for the murder of Officer Alvarez earlier in the film.Michael Keaton as Billy Caufield
Christopher Lloyd as Henry Sikorsky
Peter Boyle as Jack McDermott
Stephen Furst as Albert Ianuzzi
Dennis Boutsikaris as Dr. Jeff Weitzman
Lorraine Bracco as Riley
Milo O'Shea as Dr. Newald
Philip Bosco as O'Malley
James Remar as Gianelli
Michael Lembeck as Ed, Riley's ex-boyfriend
Jack Duffy as Bernie
Larry Pine as Canning
Ted Simonett as a yuppie
John Stocker as Murray
Lizbeth MacKay as Henry's wife
Olivia Horton as Henry's daughter
Ron James as Dwight
Wayne Tippit as Captain Lewitt
Freda Foh Shen as a TV newscaster
Dennis Parlato as TV newscaster
Donna Hanover as a field reporter
Jihmi Kennedy as the tow truck driver
Guglielmo Goffi opening scene accordion musician
The movie had a mixed reception, with Vincent Canby stating that "there's nothing dreadfully wrong with The Dream Team, Howard Zieff's new comedy, except that it's not funny too much of the time. On those occasions when it is funny, the humor less often prompts laughter than mute appreciation of the talents of the principal performers - Michael Keaton, Christopher Lloyd and Peter Boyle." Michael Wilmington noted that "[the film] is so clearly derived from the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that you might begin to wonder when Jack Nicholson will show up. [...which] may suggest that "Dream Team" is a weak, derivative, somehow disreputable movie, which is somewhat true. If you compare it to its obvious source, it has a coy, flip attitude toward illness, skating over the surface of tragedy, dementia and pain without breaking the ice. The union of four oddballs--rebel-writer, obsessive noodge, religious fanatic and couch potato--is almost too schematic, as if the writers were somehow trying to define '80s dissidence. But even though you can predict virtually everything that happens from the first five minutes on, the director and actors manage to hook you in." It currently holds a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Dream Team debuted at No. 2 at the American box office, where it made $5.7 million at 1,316 theaters, averaging US$4,335 per screen. It opened only one number shy of a competing Paramount film, Major League. It went down from that position in subsequent weeks.