Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile features some excellent music from popular singer Shawn Mendes, though everything else in this film is pretty unoriginal.
Young Josh (Winslow Fegley) and his parents, Mr and Mrs Primm (Scoot McNairy and Constance Wu) move into a new townhouse in NYC, where they discover a singing crocodile named Lyle (Shawn Mendes) living in the attic. The croc, a former pet of magician Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem), becomes part of the Primm family, helping Josh escape his shy shell while also learning to find his voice on the road to becoming a musical star.
Everyone in this film ends up on a journey to find themselves while mending relationships and strengthening and nurturing family ties. It’s a reasonably typical theme for a kids’ movie that teaches young folks to follow their dreams, step out of their comfort zones, and have fun along the way. For the adults in the audience, the film explores the negative aspects of the quest for fame, animal exploitation, and the often brutal nature of show business.
These are profound themes but treated without subtlety, but should they be? Not in a film like this, which is intended to be fun, one that you can revisit time and time again and sing along to the entertaining soundtrack by Shawn Mendes. The musician has virtually no lines of dialogue outside of the ones where he sings, and that works well enough for this narrative, which is based on the best-selling kids’ book of the same name. The rest of the actors carry the film just fine.
Where it suffers is that it simply doesn’t bring any unique charm. A singing crocodile and some whimsical comedy might be enough for most, but ultimately, the themes have been covered countless times before it in more heartfelt films. Thankfully, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile’s young intended audience won’t know any better.
The movie contains elements of both of Bernard Waber’s first two Lyle books: The House on East 88th Street (1962) and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (1965).