“Lyle, Lyle Crocodile” begins with a great premise: a singing crocodile.
From there, this fast-paced cinematic musical grows into a story about courage and how to find it. It’s a funny, poignant movie for all generations.
Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, the live-action film (with computer-generated animals) begins with Hector P. Valenti (Oscar winner Javier Bardem), a not-so-great magician who isn’t able to succeed on a TV talent show. But he thinks his luck will change after he finds a singing crocodile, Lyle (voice of Shawn Mendes), in a pet shop.
But things don’t work out as Hector hopes, and he leaves Lyle behind in a New York City brownstone that becomes the home of the Primm family. Mrs. Primm (Constance Wu) and Mr. Primm (Scoot McNairy) are raising their son Josh (Winslow Fegley), who lacks confidence.
As you’d expect, Josh finds Lyle, who has this way of inspiring people to be more confident. He does that with a lot of heart and by communicating the only way he knows how — with a song.
“Lyle, Lyle Crocodile,” which placed No. 2 last weekend in the box office, is proof that big-screen, live-action musicals (with computer-generated animals) can succeed. The story is one that kids and adults can relate to, and Mr. Mendes and Mr. Bardem, who appeared at this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival, do a great job with their duets. The other cast members are also good singers, and the musical features original, inspirational and just plain fun songs, along with lively dancing.
All of the actors play their characters with total sincerity, and you can see they’re having fun with the roles.
The movie has a strong, easy-to-follow story, and there’s a villain, Mr. Grumps (Brett Gelman). But the biggest obstacle Lyle and the Primms face is society’s fear of a crocodile. Can Lyle win everyone over? Well, you’ll enjoy seeing the answer.
Will Davis wrote the screenplay, which is inspired by the “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile” book series by Bernard Waber.
The movie adaptation is charming and hilarious, and even when you’re not laughing, you’re likely smiling. It’s the kind of movie that families should see together, so kids should bring their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents so they can see proof that yes, a crocodile can change the world.
All it takes is a song.