Last month saw the release of Inspector Sun, an animated mystery/comedy that has been in development for nearly a decade. The script won the 2013 Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award, and then was optioned by Tim Burton, before his version fell apart and the movie ended up in the hands of director Julio Soto G?rpide. The movie, which is still playing in select theaters and available for sale on VOD platforms now, centers on a murder investigation that takes place while the titular detective is on vacation, with the key twist being that the inspector is a spider and the murder takes place in a world of insects.
The movie had a long path to the United States — it came out in its native Spain last year — but G?rpide told ComicBook.com that he was very happy with how it came together. One big challenge was maintaining the integrity of the original, award-winning script while also softening the movie a bit for mass audiences.
“I’m sure you’re aware that the script got the Samuel Goldwyn award a number of years ago. That was the first time that an animated film won the award for this category,” G?rpide explained. “For a while, Tim Burton had the option for the script. He was going to make a movie, but it never happened. He dropped the script, and then we were lucky enough to just jump on board. We met with Rocco Cucilla, the writer, at the American Film Market in 2016, and then we started developing the script. In the beginning it was a bit dark; it wasn’t that family friendly. So, it took a year and a half or two to rewrite it, and get it to a point where we wanted it. We love the original. Don’t take me wrong; it’s not that we didn’t like it. It’s just that we needed to make it more family-friendly, because it was an animated film.”
Species of bugs helped to shape the personalities of the characters — something that G?rpide took a special interest in, because independent of his love for film, he’s also very interested in biology.
“Parallel to [the rewrite], we started developing characters,” G?rpide said. “We were very sure about the main characters. We introduced different species so that it wouldn’t be only spiders and ants, but we have, like, rhinoceros beetles. We have praying mantises. We have, all kinds of different insects. I’m a bit of a biologist, so every insect that you see in the film is actually based on an actual species. From that point on, it was just a matter of doing the storyboard, the animatics. And finding the money, of course, because that takes time.”
The filmmaker admits he used familiar film noir tropes and other recognizable film language to imply a larger world around Inspector Sun. The gist of it is, this is kind of like an old noir movie or serial — one where the lead character is already active and the world is already pretty lived-in when the film starts up.
“I guess there is a little bit of subtext that we, you know, we introduced in the movie, but I think the characters and the dialogues are sufficiently clear for people to understand the characters,” G?rpide said. “I guess we’re also playing certain clich?s here. We have the, you know, a millionaire mobster. We have the black widow, who’s the, the femme fatale. We have the inspector who’s always been very lucky. But we don’t know if he’s talented. Eventually we discovered that. Yeah, I mean, he is talented. You know, we have the apprentice. We have the arts nemesis, like you said. So, I mean, we don’t we don’t need to have a lot of subtext to to understand. You know where they’re coming from. Uh, but yes, I mean, if I had had one more hour, if the movie was like three hours long, I could have, you know, had a lot more backstory and everything.”
Here’s the film’s offficial synopsis:
After being fired from his detective job after a mission gone awry, Inspector Sun boards a seemingly normal plane for a much-needed vacation. When Dr. Spindlethorp receives a threat on his life, Sun is back on the case. Trapped in a web of lies, Sun must find his suspect before it’s too late.
Written by Rocco Pucillo, Inspector Sun was directed by Julio Soto G?rpide. The film stars Ronny Chieng, Emily Kleimo, Jennifer Childs Greer, Rich Orlow, and Iain Batchelor.
Inspector Sun is in select theaters now. You can also buy it on video on demand platforms like Vudu, Apple, and Prime Video.