Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Review
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is now in theaters.
A crocodile can’t live in a house… can it? Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile asks that very question when the Primm family moves into their new New York apartment to find a crocodile living in the attic. Oh, and it can sing, too. Based on the classic children’s picture book by Bernard Waber, it’s a cute, quirky tale about finding your place in the world. A whimsical family musical that hits all the right notes, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile has bags of charm and some ludicrously catchy songs. Seriously, your kids will be singing along for days.
Throw in some silly gags and a truly heart-warming storyline and it all adds up to a family film that should put a smile on everyone’s face. Sure, it’s a little derivative, but it’s charming enough that you won’t really care.
Lyle (Shawn Mendes) is, well… a crocodile. Not a talking one, either – a singing crocodile. He’s discovered in the back of a pet store by the delightfully weird Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem), a vaudevillian-style entertainer who’s desperate to get his big break. But while Lyle’s soothing tones are music to Hector’s ears, there’s a catch: Lyle suffers from stage fright. But Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is about more than just a crocodile finding his voice. He helps the Primm family find theirs, too.
You see, after Hector goes back on the road, Lyle goes to live in his attic… and when the Primm family takes over the lease, it’s exactly the kind of fun, shenanigan-fuelled setup you might expect. No, it’s not hugely original. That said, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile tackles the well-worn story with a new sensitivity that sets Lyle up to be more than just a comic foil for the family.
Lyle speaks in song, so Mendes is perfect for the role – no real acting necessary. Still, he’s a very friendly kind of crocodile, helping each of the Primms to embrace life and live it on their own terms. It’s the kind of cutesy sentimentality you expect of a film like Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile… but it really works. Lyle is obviously the star of the show, super cute with a wide-eyed and hopeful innocence. That said, the Primms each bring their own desires and struggles to the table, elevating them to more than mere kids film caricatures.
Josh (Winslow Fegley) is a young boy struggling to fit in. That’s made ten times worse when he’s forced to start a new school and make new friends, but Lyle helps the self-professed weirdo find his feet. A hilarious “fight” scene between Lyle and Josh’s dad, Joseph (Scoot McNairy), helps him to find his inner strength – handy when the high-school teacher has to deal with the rowdy kids at his new school.
There’s a lot to love about Javier Bardem’s performance, and you might well argue that he steals every scene he’s in.“
Equally, Javier Bardem nails it as the wondrously eccentric but down-on-his-luck Hector. In fact, he hams up the role with a vibrant energy befitting the vaudevillian-style song and dance man. There’s a lot to love about Bardem’s performance, and you might well argue that he steals every scene he’s in. Overacted? Definitely. But joyously so.
One of the big surprises comes in the form of Brett Gelman as Mr Grumps. Yes, Murray from Stranger Things is the family’s perpetually cranky neighbour. He’s a mean-spirited busybody that you just love to hate. And his appearance really helps balance the film, so it’s not too sickly sweet.
Directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon have assembled a quirky take on the classic children’s book that stands on its own two feet. A sharp script with a modern twist from writer William Davies gives Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile enough of an edge to keep things interesting. The occasional comedy moments hit well enough, while kids of all ages will adore its toe-tapping musical numbers.
Mendes may not do any actual acting, but he does a lot of heavy lifting with the film’s soundtrack. Take A Look At Us Now is a real highlight – the kind of earworm you’ll be trying to get rid of for weeks. But you might as well give in, it’s going nowhere. And it’s joyously uplifting, too.
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile isn’t hugely original, but lots of genuinely touching moments underpin a well-crafted, whimsical tale of belonging. Speck and Gordon walk a fine line between heartwarming and overly mushy, but a quirky tone and sharp script keep things from veering too far into over-sentimentality. There’s a lot to love about Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, and Bardem really sings as the aging showman while Mendes wows with some real crowd-pleasing hits. This crocodile rocks, and the kids will love him.
This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Ryan Leston