In its almost 20 years on TV, the “Law & Order” brand has garnered a laughably large number of spin-offs, and writer/director Mark Porro’s parody – “Law & Order: Sport Utility Vehicle” – does an admirable job of poking fun at some of the series’ most recognizable idiosyncrasies.
Filmed almost entirely in the confines of an SUV, the film centers on the murder of a city councilman’s wife, whose body is found chopped in half next to the presumed weapon of chose, a pair of electric hedge trimmers. Both the law and order components are executed in the vehicle, meaning a constant flow of characters in and out of the car (and each time the door closes, the familiar Law and Order gavel-slam sound bite goes off).
The performances are strong, but the dialogue is hit and miss. Some characters, such as the dyslexic psychic prostitute who was first to stumble upon the body, seem to be wacky for the sake of wackiness, and get old fast. Others, like the homeless guy witness, drop some seriously funny lines but see too little screen time.
As a parody, “Law and Order: Sport Utility Vehicle” fires on all cylinders, but the concept – cute as it may be – is stretched too thin. There are, after all, only so many jokes that can be made about needlessly packing a lot of people into a tight space. By the time a juror’s head pops in through the sunroof to give a decision, viewer claustrophobia has already kicked in.