I used to enjoy the mystery books by the great John Bellairs, such as The Curse of the Blue Figurine, when I was a child. As a second grader, I was fascinated by the cover and brief description on the back of Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie, but unfortunately, the text was obviously too advanced for me. The curiosity of mystery in movies and literature is appealing to many kids, but there are so few films that are appropriate for them. This being said- Inspector Sun and the Curse of The Black Widow is a lighthearted romp in the style of the Pink Panther films starring Peter Sellers and with an Agatha Christie/Charlie Chan vibe to it. It is all so innocent and good-natured that you wouldn’t know it was a murder mystery (of bug characters). Some parents may be sensitive to this, so caution is advised.
Inspector Sun tells the story of the titular character, a cartoon spider detective with an Inspector Clouseau inflated sense of ego and an exaggerated brand of Sherlock Holmesian intellectual superiority. After he foils the Red Locust criminal mastermind and is chastised by his boss (think Herbert Lom as a Spider!), he bumbles his way through tracking a killer and follows death threats that are being sent to a bug millionaire. The plot is a very basic whodunit that is simplistic enough for a child. Some of the jokes are aimed at a more mature audience, but by and by, it is a family-quality film.
“…bumbles his way through tracking a killer and follows death threats that are being sent to a bug millionaire.”
I’ve heard the film compared to A Bug’s Life. This is definitely an apropos comparison, but it has that added macabre mystery element that many imaginative kids enjoy and which is very understated for the sake of family friendliness. The animation is clear and fantastic, and it is a staunch example of how far the cinema world has come in providing quality animated fare. It might be best to view this film on a large screen to see the exquisite effects. I do not know very much about pixels, and I usually never write about animated family films, but this was different than others I had experienced in that it combines old-school, cozy mystery storytelling with a modern-age twist.
I found the film to be exceptionally kinetic and chaotic in a good way. Inspector Sun’s character demeanor is effective and infectiously inspired (again, in a good way). Some of the minor characters, particularly the Inspector’s biggest fan, Janey, were simply grating on my nerves, however. For the most part, I found the whole film to be a very likable diversion. As a newcomer to this film genre, I was unaware of the different gradations of animation. This is not a Disney film and apparently was made originally in Spain. I watched it dubbed in English. However, the quality of the animation seemed quite on par and visually impressive to the layman. I do not think it was the aim of the filmmaker to maintain an agenda of contention or controversy like some Disney or Disneyfied films do. So that is a plus in my book.
Inspector Sun and the Curse of The Black Widow is not exactly the most original character in family viewing today, but I liked the fact that it had those old-school Inspector Clouseau moments and the mystery elements like the old-school cozies. This film avoids politicization and controversy, which is rare in many modern efforts, no matter what the genre is, even a family film. Enjoy the Inspector’s trials and triumphs in an earnest effort to provide a cozy mystery in an animated film.
"…...an earnest effort to provide a cozy mystery in an animated film."