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‘Lyle Lyle Crocodile’: A Chaotic But Lovable New York Tale

I would be the last person to call a crocodile cute. However, in Sony Pictures newest family filmLyle, Lyle, Crocodile, we find a lovable and harmless crocodile looking for community. The musically crafted film sets audiences on a metaphorical and physical search throughout New York City. A search for what? You’ll have to see to find out.

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Suspension of disbelief runs rampant in Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

A singing crocodile who bathes in a bathtub and is friendly with humans? I’m not saying this is a true story at all. Rather, the film is adapted from the book of the same name by Bernard Waber.

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lyle lyle crocodile- shawn mendes
Lyle takes a bath in Columbia Pictures LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE./ CREDIT: Courtesy of Sony Pictures © 2022 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

We follow a crocodile named Lyle (voiced Shawn Mendes) who has the the ability to sing (beautifully I might add). When his magician owner Hector P Valenti (Javier Bardem) leaves him in his Brownstone attic in NYC, Lyle then meets the Primm family who has just moved in: Katie Primm (Constance Wu), Joseph Primm (Scoot McNairy), and their son Josh (Winslow Fegley). As Lyle forms a new bond with the young boy and his family, the downstairs neighbor (Brett Gelman) threatens his existence.

Once you push past the fact that this crocodile is safe enough to be a pet never mind a singing one, you can fully immerse yourself in the story. And it’s worth it to try.

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Shawn Mendes can really sing

At first, I was hesitant to believe a superstar like Shawn Mendes could blend into the role of a CGI animated crocodile. However, the minute a note came out of the animal’s mouth, it made sense.

The singer has a plethora of hits including ‘Señorita,’ Mercy,’ and ‘Stitches’ so there’s no doubt he can sing. I was pleasantly surprised though with his range. When a song went a little bit up the octave, Mendes hit the notes with ease. My favorites include ‘Sir Duke,’ ‘Top of the World,’ and ‘Rip up the Recipe’ (a collaboration with Constance Wu who has a great voice as well). He’s got a knack for smooth vocals that are nice to listen to but also feel awe for.

Since Lyle could only sing, not talk, it helped make Shawn Mendes blend in easier. Did I ever think a crocodile would have a high falsetto like the performer? No, but it makes it so much better.

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Javier Bardem shines as a struggling performer

Out of all the characters, human of course, Lyle’s owner Hector stuck out the most. Played by Being the Ricardos Javier Bardem, Hector is a magician/performer looking for his big break. He’s a bit eccentric with his little magic tricks and his long hair that’s balding a bit at the top. Yet, Javier Bardem plays him with a lot of complexity.

lyle lyle crocodile- javier bardem
Javier Bardem stars as Hector P. Valenti in Columbia Pictures LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE/ CREDIT: Fernando Decillis. © 2021 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

With all the larger than life showman performances he puts on, his eyes tell a sadder story. Hector is a man striving for fame and trying everything he can to make it in show business.  Does he always make the right choices? Definitely not. But he is far from a villain or antagonist. Watching Hector wrestle between his happy and free spirited showmanship and his moments of defeat and desperation adds a whole other layer to the movie.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile spreads the message of coloring outside the lines and the importance of family

lyle lyle crocodile- constance wu, scoot mcnairy
Constance Wu, Winslow Fegley and Scoot McNairy star in Columbia Pictures’ LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE./ CREDIT: Tom Griscom. © 2021 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Since Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a children’s film, it’s bound to have a bigger message. I found 2. First, is the notion of coloring outside the lines. Josh is a young boy in New York City; he should be having fun! Due to his personality though, he’s always extra prepared for everything, something he inherited from his dad and step-mom. Simultaneously, his step-mom Katie must follow the book, especially when it comes to her cooking. Through colorful musical numbers and the introduction of Lyle himself, it’s easier for Katie and Josh to embrace chaos and refuse order all the time. Something we all should learn once in a while.

Second, the film presents the idea of family. That’s all Lyle wants. Someone to love and care for him. It’s not easy being a crocodile in NYC. As you’ll find throughout the film, it doesn’t matter if family isn’t blood. Love matters.

If you have kids at home, you should take them to Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. You’ll be singing along, laughing, and maybe crying like I did.

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