Lyle Lyle Crocodile Review

Hollywood has had a penchant for a while now to do animated films where the people are real and an animal is animated whether it be drawn animation or computer animation. Sometimes these films are based on the television shows like Yogi Bear and the Smurfs and other times they are based on literary characters such as Winnie the Pooh. In the case of Lyle Lyle Crocodile, it’s the latter. This film is based on the children’s book series by Bernard Waber. They are very popular. The movie aims to be as well.

Hector P Valenti (Javier Bardem) is an entertainer and showman. He dabbles in magic and a little singing and dancing in his act. Things haven’t been going so well for him though. As he’s reflecting on another failed attempt to rejuvenate his career he stumbles into an exotic pet store. While in there he notices a baby crocodile singing. He takes him back home with him and starts to coax him into learning to do a singing and dancing act for the two of them together. This is going to be a new start for Bardem’s character. Except when they are about to do their big act Lyle (Shawn Mendez), as he’s known by now, freezes up. This forces Bardem’s character to abandon Lyle in his brownstone in New York City and go it alone once again. Eventually, a new family moves into the brownstone and finds out about Lyle’s singing and dancing ability.

To be honest I wasn’t that familiar with the work of Shawn Mendez before watching this film. As I’ve found out he sings pop music and I’m not a fan of that kind of music even though I do watch The Voice. So I am acquainted with some of the more popular songs and artists because of that show and its contestants and Coaches. One contestant, in particular, sang a Shawn Mendez song the other night on the blind auditions and he was brought up by Camila Cabello, a new Coach on the show. She was in a relationship with him. That was my only knowledge of him and his music before watching the movie. After watching the movie I can honestly say he has the voice of an angel and he had me singing and dancing along with him throughout the film.

Mendez and Bardem weren’t the only members of this cast that were doing solid work. Josh Primm (Winslow Fegley, 8-Bit Christmas)) his stepmother (Constance Wu, Hustlers), and his father Joseph Primm (Scoot McNairy, Monsters) we’re all integral parts of the story and film going forward as well as Mr. Grump (Bret Gelman, Stranger Things) he was the main foil of the Primm family, and Lyle through most of the film. This was your typical type of animated live-action hybrid family film. This plot has been done before in a few other films. It’s the music that sets it apart from the others.

Speaking of that music it would have been a missed opportunity if the filmmakers didn’t use Crocodile Rock by Elton John and so they sneak it in at the end of the film. There was a lot of original music by Mendez and company though. Take a Look at Us Now is the main theme song of the movie sung multiple times by Mendez, Bardem, and Fegley during the film. It’ll be hard to get that tune out of my head. They also use songs from Stevie Wonder, Sir Duke, Clare Rosinkranz, and many others throughout the hour and forty-six-minute runtime. The music sung by the cast is the heart of the film. 

That being said, there were a couple of tear-jerker moments in the movie that got me a bit choked up. This movie was geared towards kids and families but it doesn’t mean an old codger like me can’t get emotional from time to time. I’m a sucker for a good old fashion family film with a hook like this one has. These types of films have been done before but this one was a bit original in how it mixed the musical aspects with the typical story beats we’ve seen before. The angelic voice of Mendez reverberated throughout the Dolby theater while I was watching the movie. The heartfelt simplistic story was also a clear-cut reason why I enjoyed the film. 

Lyle Lyle Crocodile was a fun heartfelt family movie that the whole family can enjoy. Even old guys can enjoy a more simple film like this one. The music scenes were my favorite throughout the movie. The acting by the cast was solid but it was the singing and dancing scenes involving Mendez as Lyle and the others that got me a bit giddy. Honestly, I was a bit teary-eyed when I walked out but that was a good thing. I was glad I could see an old-fashioned family film with a singing and dancing computer-generated crocodile. I hope this movie gets the audience it deserves.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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