Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile
MOVIE | Musical comedy about a singing crocodile is a crowd-pleaser that elevates family and service to others
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➤ Rated PG for mild peril
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a musical comedy based on Bernard Waber’s series of illustrated children’s books in which a family shares its life with a lovable crocodile. The first book in the series, The House on East 88th Street, was published 60 years ago, and while the movie updates the setting to the present day, it retains the story’s charm.
Josh Primm (Winslow Fegley) is struggling with his family’s recent move to New York City. The metropolis intimidates this young man who suffers with anxiety, and his parents (Constance Wu and Scoot McNairy) are busy adjusting to their own situations while worrying about Josh. But everything starts to change for the Primms when Josh finds Lyle, a singing crocodile (voiced by Canadian singer Shawn Mendes), living in the attic of their brownstone. Lyle teaches the Primms to relax and have fun. And the Primms, along with Lyle’s old friend Valenti (Javier Bardem), will have to teach New York City not to fear a singing crocodile.
Don’t expect many surprises. The story is a little formulaic, but it’s a crowd-pleasing formula: A sweet family needs some help, and a cute animal friend needs a family. There’s also the grumpy neighbor—he’s named Mr. Grumps—who tries to keep everyone from having a good time. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile keeps things fresh with a handful of original songs written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the songwriting duo for The Greatest Showman and La La Land.
The film has a couple of mildly scary scenes, but it’s otherwise free of objectionable content. It leaves the audience with the feel-good message that everyone needs a family, and it also suggests we should use our gifts out of love for one another rather than for monetary gain.