“Inspector Solar,” a computer-animated household movie launched in Spain final yr and now arriving in an English-language dubbed model, may be very clearly a product of the director Julio Soto Gurpide and the screenwriter Rocco Pucillo’s deep affection for movement image historical past. The film attracts on a spread of classics, from silent journey serials to screwball mysteries like “The Skinny Man” to the swashbuckling epics of Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn.
This comedian detective story, set largely on a flight from Shanghai to San Francisco within the Thirties, is modeled on one other well-known peripatetic detective story from the identical decade, Agatha Christie’s “Homicide on the Orient Specific.”
This story’s model of Inspector Poirot, nevertheless, is a huntsman spider, and his campy sleuthing takes place in a world vibrantly and charmingly populated by a bunch of ants, flies and different bugs, together with a locust crime lord and a femme deadly black widow spider. The comic Ronny Chieng performs Inspector Solar, the arachnid gumshoe. He’s an odd match for the inspector, who sports activities a skinny mustache and appears like he ought to sound archly French or Belgian, however Chieng brings a straightforward cheerfulness to the efficiency that feels extra distinctive than a full-blown Poirot parody.
The humor alternates between considerably dorky however likable wordplay (“I’m not a praying man … tis,” Solar quips at one level) and a few pretty juvenile sight gags, lots of them scatological (and none of them humorous).
However whereas typically grating, the movie is all the time interesting, with pleasing particulars, all the way down to its Artwork Deco finish titles. I hope they make a sequel, and simply adapt a Christie story outright — maybe “Spider’s Net.”
Rated PG for some motion and delicate innuendo. Operating time: 1 hour 28 minutes. In theaters.