On paper, it sounds like Jane the Virgin set in Zootopia, but You Son of a Bitch! (Hayop Ka!) is its own beast. The title alone is giving pause to anyone still hanging on to Judy Hopes (sorry).
Made by the Philippines-based Rocketsheep Studio, the cutout animated feature looks like one of the most refreshing works we’ve seen coming out of the region in a long while.
You Son of a Bitch! has a telenovela DNA. Nimfa, a pretty pussycat, is torn between two doggos — Roger the janitor and Inigo the ultra-rich business hotshot. Will she stay with sturdy Roger or get swept away by Inigo’s upper crust pursuit?
Admittedly, this sounds like a banal romantic comedy formula. Even the studio, Rocketsheep, admits in a written response to one of the comments on the teaser video: ““[The] story is very silly, nothing deep, just something highly inspired by people who call the radio late at night to narrate their love problems.”
But part of the excitement for You is due to its fluid animation and cheeky tone, promising “serious drama, sexy romance, and intriguing intrigue”. Another part is its pedigree — Rocketsheep has made its name taking interesting risks.
Its previous film, Saving Sally, meshes animation and live-action to tell a tale of teenage love terrorised by giant monsters. Or, as it’s described, “typical teen movie about love, monsters and gadgets” – though it’s hard to see what’s typical about that. The critically acclaimed film, which took ten years to make, had suffered a limited release due to its perceived lack of commercial appeal, but a social media campaign by netizens demanding cinemas to screen it gained traction. Saving Sally ended up showing on over 80 screens around the Philippines and raked in earnings beyond expectations.
The funds are now channeled into You Son of a Bitch!, which voice cast includes Angelica Panganiban (Nimfa), Robin Padilla (Roger), and Sam Milby (Inigo).
Theatrical release in the Philippines is set to be in 2020, though international distribution is still up in the air. We hope it gets taken worldwide, or at least Southeast-Asia-wide to pry this region’s animators out of the cartoon-is-for-kids rut.