Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Health & Disorder" Goes All "Law & Order" On Healthcare -- With Laughs!

Genre: Comedy
Length- 9:10
Company: Absolute Theatre / Lurking Cat Films
Website: David Harper's Official

Imagine, if you will, a near future scenario where healthcare and the justice system have overlapped.  Joey (David Harper) may or may not have a heart condition, which may or may not be covered by his health insurance.  Dr. Lenny (Jerry Kernion) and Dr. Ray (June Carryl) believe they can twist his condition for their own personal gain.  On top of that, Agent Macrone (Rana Rines) is from the government and she's here to help.

In a humorous parody of hit TV show “Law & Order”, “Health & Disorder” asks you to look at the political battle for good healthcare in a new way.  Check it out!


“Health & Disorder” is a short film with some serious thought put into the production.  The direction, coloring and story are all tailor-made to imitate “Law & Order”, right down to the  tinkling end theme.  What makes it unique is that we take the cop procedural genre and plant it in medical territory: criminal and legal terms are exchanged with healthcare related ones, and the Good Cop / Bad Cop thing works like a dream, this time as Good Doctor / Bad Doctor.  

It's shot in a single room, and deals with a single long conversation.  Director Richard Tatum pulls out all the stops and composes the shots in true “Law & Order” fashion.  It's all quite humorous, and I laughed out loud a few times over the course of the short film.  


Like any other gimmick-based film, it loses steam about halfway through and I started wondering, ultimately, where we were headed -- are we going to go right wing or left wing, politically speaking?  There's some anti-socialized healthcare comments, but then the other side is also depicted in a negative way, so the film doesn't really register as overtly political.  It's a smart move that stops the film from alienating anyone.

“Health & Disorder” is, at its heart, a question mark to the audience.  What do you think?  Which route for Joey to take is the best one?  Failing that, which is the lesser of evils?

The audience must supply its own answers, but “Health & Disorder” is an indictment of a system that is, by anyone's standards, flawed and unmanageable.


Writing: 2.5 / 5.  Harper also wrote the script to the film and it's intimate and witty when it needs to be, but I didn't buy Joey's character.  We needed him to anchor the audience to make the film mean something, but he doesn't really have an arc – he's an innocent bystander in his own life, whiny and ignorant in equal measure.  As a result, the happenings on screen feel distant.  This means that pretty much the entire weight of the film has to ride on the gimmick. It works for a while.
Directing: 3.5 / 5.  Tatum nailed the gimmick without question: it feels like a lost “Law & Order” episode from start to finish.  Loved the angles and the moving handheld shots.  Unfortunately, there's not too much to do except watch people talk.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Again, really solid production values.  The film has a great look and that title card was amazing.  I did not give the editing a 5 because the film has some fat in it – how many times does Dr. Lenny have to get physical with Joey?
Sound/Music: 2.5 / 5.  The end theme sounds identical to the original “Law & Order” theme, but I think it's a little different to avoid copyright issues.  I'm not entirely sure as I'm not an avid viewer of the series, but I have seen several episodes.  There are a few shots toward the end where Dr. Ray sounds too far from the boom, but apart from that, it's serviceable.
Acting: 2.5 / 5.  Carryl and Rines put in the best and most authentic performances of the film.    Kernion's performance felt forced.  Harper does the best he can, but his character isn't very inspiring.  Tracy Eliott plays Dr. Standish, and sounds flat the entire time she's onscreen.  

Final Grade: 3 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Health & Disorder" and follow director Richard Tatum and writer/actor David Harper on Facebook!

Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!