Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

  • 12 Nov - 18 Nov, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

A flamboyant magician, Hector Valenti, brings home a singing pet crocodile, Lyle, and places his New York home as collateral to fund their show. Lyle, however, freezes, and Valenti loses his home as the show flops. He needs to be on the road to make money, leaving Lyle alone to fend for himself. Flash forward to the present day, and the croc finds friends in the Primms, who move into the house. When an unfriendly neighbour, Mr Grumps, gets Lyle taken away, the family comes together to bring him back.

The live-action/animation musical is an adaptation of Bernard Waber’s picture book by the same name. The movie’s stars are the animated singing crocodile, Lyle (Shawn Mendes), and his owner, Hector P Valenti (Javier Bardem). While the novelty of seeing a singing and dancing crocodile is fascinating and created slickly, the screen comes alive every time the latter appears as the colourful, ambitious, tough-on-luck magician on a quest to win the national talent show. Sadly, though, Javier is inconspicuous in his absence for a major part of the movie.

Apart from these two, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile doesn’t have much to offer. It’s the same tried and tested recipe – the bond between the young Josh Primm (Winslow Fegley) and Lyle, the frightened parents warming up to him and making him a part of the family, an antagonist who gets Lyle thrown into the zoo, and how the family comes together to get him back. The themes of finding your place in the world, going out of your comfort zone, rediscovering yourself, and beating all odds are not new either. But the flick has some hilarious moments – the mean neighbour, Mr Grumps (Brett Gelman), has a Persian cat with the funniest scenes, and a sequence where the gigantic croc wrestles with Mr Primm (Scoot McNairy) is delightful, too.

Combining various genres – musical, comedy, thriller, drama, and fantasy – works against the narrative. The movie had big-time potential as only a comedy thriller in the Home Alone zone, but it fails to take off. Some parts are outright odd – jumping in garbage cans and eating food cannot pass off as a free-spirited thing to do or hogging on unhealthy food.

Javier plays the part of a lively and ever-optimistic but weak character perfectly, but his charm fizzles towards the end. The screenplay and premise become jarring as soon as the new family is introduced and Lyle has grown up. Constance Wu, as Mrs Primm, is passable, but McNairy has the most forgettable performance in the film.

The soundtrack is hummable, and the film will appeal to little kids. But it might not entertain older children and adults.