The Dream Team is a Nightmare

The Dream Team .... So funny

In yesterday’s post (“Madness in Media”), I listed some books, movies, paintings, and songs, that had shaped my understanding and impacted my experience of Bipolar disorder.  One of the movies I listed was “The Dream Team”.  My brother-in-law owns a copy of this film on VHS, so last night after dinner we sat around with buttered popcorn and soda and settled into an evening of fun and laughter.

Or so I thought.

You see, I remember when I first saw “The Dream Team” (likely around 1990 – before my diagnosis), I laughed hysterically (hysterical being the operative word).  I’m not sure what drugs I was on then (probably none), but I could’ve used more.  Watching it now, with 5 hospitalizations under my belt, a steady regiment of psycho-tropics in my blood stream, and the stigma of a Bipolar on my back, well…  it leads me to conclude that the movie must have been written by someone woefully unfamiliar with mental illness who has the sense of humor of a very silly 7-year old.

I have 3 major problems with the film.

1)  The underlying message (if you want to call it that) is that if people with psychosis just stop taking their medication and face extremely stressful (Outward Bound-style) challenges, they come to their senses and are healed.  I realize in 1989, there were still a lot of psychiatric patients overprescribed massive amounts of Thorazine, but a new generation of psycho-tropics were emerging and, in many states, long-term institutional care was no longer an option.  The film takes place outside New York City and I’m pretty sure New York was either closing or had closed its state psychiatric hospitals by then.  The movie tries to be “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and fails miserably.

2)  The movie laughs at (rather than with) psychosis.  The characters are very one-dimensional and, apart from one family scene (with Christopher Lloyd’s character and his daughter) that is supposed to be touching (I couldn’t care less by then), it simply mocks characteristics of typical psychotics rather than reveals humorous foibles they find in life.

3)  It’s just not that funny.  The funny bits could easily fit in a trailer.  In fact, I can only remember one – when Peter Boyle’s character (who thinks he’s Jesus Christ) tells a man on a stretcher to “Rise and walk.”  The man tries, and falls.  Okay, now that I think of it, that isn’t even funny.

So, if you have a mental illness (or even if you don’t) and you are looking for a prescription for some laughs, do yourself a favor and don’t watch “The Dream Team”.

Thanks to all who sent in recommendations of books, paintings, music, and movies depicting mental illness.  I’m expanding the project and will be collecting suggestions through May 31, so if you think of more, let me know…

(image above “The Dream Team …. So funny” from  Kate Abate in MOVIES, SHOWS)

5 thoughts on “The Dream Team is a Nightmare

  1. The underlying message (if you want to call it that) is that if people with psychosis just stop taking their medication and face extremely stressful (Outward Bound-style) challenges, they come to their senses and are healed That’s about as helpful as when certain Christians tell other Christians who suffer from depression that their depression is the result of secret sin and that they should at least pretend to be happy around non-Christians. The mind boggles at their stupidity and lack of compassion.

    • Excellent comparison.

      I have a meditation in my book on “Sin and Sickness”. My point is that all Illness (mental as well as physical) is a symptom of the “condition” of sin – which we inherit from our ancestors. In the area of mental health, many confuse the “condition” of sin with the “commission” of sin and contend we should seek restoration only in non-medical forms. It is like telling someone with advanced diabetes to throw away his insulin and just eat more vegetables.

  2. It’s good to see someone writing about things like this. I have often wondered about how others really felt about the less than understanding atmosphere of some ‘entertainment’..Keep it up…:)

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