Review: ‘Inspector Sun,’ starring the voices of Ronny Chieng, Emily Kleimo, Jennifer Childs Greer, Rich Orlow, Scott Greer, Iain Batchelor and Jeanette Grace Gonglewski

November 2, 2023

by Carla Hay

Inspector Sun (voiced by Ronny Chieng) and Janey (voiced by Emily Kleimo) in “Inspector Sun” (Image courtesy of Viva Pictures)

“Inspector Sun”

Directed by Julio Soto Gurpide

Culture Representation: Taking place mostly on a seaplane traveling from Shanghai to San Francisco, the animated film “Inspector Sun” features a cast of characters portraying different types of insects.

Culture Clash: A spider detective must solve a murder mystery that took place on a luxury seaplane. 

Culture Audience: “Inspector Sun” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching a comedic animated film that is inspired by Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels.

Bugsy Spindlethorpe (voiced by Scott Greer) and Arabella Killtop (voiced by Jennifer Childs Greer ) in “Inspector Sun” (Image courtesy of Viva Pictures)

“Inspector Sun” is a film that manages to be lightweight and somewhat jumbled at the same time. However, it’s satisfactory animation geared mostly to children who are under 10 years old. The story is mildly entertaining for people who like murder mysteries.

Directed by Julio Soto Gurpide and written by Rocco Pucillo, “Inspector Sun” (also titled “Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow”) was originally released as a Spanish-laguage movie in 2022. An English-language version was released in 2023. The movie isn’t specific to one nationality, so the language transition is seamless. The story is about insects that talk like humans. All the voice actors listed here are in the English-language version of “Inspector Sun.”

In the movie, Inspector Sun (voiced by Ronny Chieng) is a widower detective, who is very intelligent but not very sociable. After getting fired for a mission that went wrong, he decides to go on vacation, so he boards a luxury seaplane going from Shanghai to San Francisco. He meets a talkative orphan named Janey (voiced by Emily Kleimo), who offers to be his assistant. He declines her offer, but Janey tags along with Inspector Sun anyway.

Inspector Sun has been invited on this trip by a wealthy friend named Mr. Scarab (voiced by Rich Orlow), a rhinoceros beetle, who is also on the seaplane. It isn’t long before a murder happens. Dr. Bugsy Spindlethorp (voiced by Scott Geer) was a millionaire funnel-web spider who was found dead in a spiderweb that was not his. Inspector Sun had met and his wife briefly in the plane’s grand ballroom during dinner.

Taking inspiration from Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels, “Inspector Sun” then becomes a whodunit mystery with an eccentric detective leading the investigation. Bugsy’s wife Arabella Killtop (played by Jennifer Childs Greer) is a black widow spider who becomes an immediate suspect. Things get complicated for Inspector Sun because there’s a mutual attraction between him and Arabella.

Other characters that are part of the investigation are the plane’s Captain Skeleton, a neurotic housefly that wears a vest and tie; Mr. Gill Tea (voiced by Paul Louis Miller), a mantis assassin; and Lady Vatchu (voiced by Jeanette Grace Gonglewski), a passenger who has baby children. Other characters in the mix are police officer named Lieutenant Mac (voiced by Orlow); Inspector Sun’s longtime enemy Red Locust (also voice by Orlow); and a character called Ant Queen (voiced by Gonglewski).

The movie’s plot has several twists and turns. However, it’s enough to say that Bugsy’s widow Arabella reveals Bugsy had no real money and his fortune was in his work. There’s also a valuable orb that is sought-after by multiple characters in the story.

The characters in “Inspector Sun” are written well-enough for viewers to keep viewer interest. The dynamic between Inspector Sun and Janey evolves from him treating her like an unwelcome pest to him having growing respect for her and treating her like a mentor. Janey does some things that are crucial to helping the investigation.

The visuals for “Inspector Sun” will appeal to people who like the visual style of “The Addams Family” animated movies. (Black widow Arabella looks like she could fit right in with the Addams Family.) The murder mystery plot gets very convoluted at one point (just like a spider’s web), but viewers with patience should enjoy the most adventurous part of the movie that happens in the last third of the film. “Inspector Sun,” which does a nice job of balancing comedy and drama, is a good option for anyone looking for family-friendly animation.

Viva Pictures released “Inspector Sun” in select U.S. cinemas on October 27, 2023. The movie was released in Spain on December 28, 2022.

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