From: Silver Screen
REVIEW: In ‘Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile’ a reptile finds his community and his voice
“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” is a new musical adaptation of Bernard Waber’s beloved book series of the same name. Featuring Shawn Mendes, who stars as Lyle, this lighthearted tale of a crocodile finding his home in New York City requires suspension of disbelief but expects the audience to stretch their imaginations too far.
The film opens with Lyle getting his supposed “big break,” when washed-up performer Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem) adopts him in hopes of making him a star. However, Lyle’s terrible stage fright causes him to freeze whenever he sings in front of an audience. Thus, Valenti abandons Lyle in Valenti’s old brownstone.
Still, Lyle gets a new lease on life when a young family named the Primms move into Valenti’s abandoned home after Mr. Primm (Scoot McNairy) scores a new job in the city. The Primms reluctantly accept Lyle into their family, and Mrs. Primm (Constance Wu) develops a particularly strong bond with Lyle as he teaches her the importance of occasionally relinquishing control.
Lyle’s dynamic relationship with the Primm’s only child, Josh (Winslow Fegley), is arguably the film’s biggest success. Lyle teaches Josh how to navigate New York City, while Josh teaches Lyle that he isn’t alone in his troubles. The pair’s parallel stories of trying to become more confident converge as they find comfort in each other. Their ability to make each other grow heartwarmingly displays the importance of surrounding oneself with people who are uplifting and supportive.
The film also features many tried-and-true elements that have proved successful in recent movies geared toward young audiences. The plot of an unusual animal becoming a loved member of a family will be welcomed by fans of films like “Paddington.” Additionally, the film’s songwriters Justin Paul and Benj Pasek’s previous work on the “The Greatest Showman” shines through in Valenti’s grand musical numbers.
But, the intersection of these two concepts leaves certain plot developments feeling incomplete. While the film attempts to balance the lighthearted musical numbers with more sentimental dialogue and character development, certain characters become either underdeveloped or predictable in the chaos of the storyline.
For a movie marketed as a musical, the choreography feels repetitive and doesn’t match the energy of the music itself. Additionally, Valenti never sincerely apologizes for abandoning Lyle or learns from his mistakes. Even after reuniting with Lyle 18 months later, he becomes the agent of a talented beat-boxing snake when Lyle parts ways with him. This final, underwhelming interaction between Valenti and Lyle leaves a major relationship in the film unresolved.
However unrealistic the film’s premise may be, the impressive CGI of Lyle himself goes a long way in lending the film some much needed plausibility. Although Lyle can only communicate through song, he is still able to bring humor to the film during dialogue with his clumsy nature and undeniable charm.
Although some character arcs get forgotten in the whimsical chaos of the film, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” still offers a comedic, heartwarming experience that is worth the watch. A plot revolving around a singing crocodile may seem ridiculous at first glance, but beneath the humorous moments and flashy musical numbers is an endearing story of a family and a crocodile who help each other find a home.
“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” was released in theaters on Oct. 7.