Lyle, Lyle Crocodile
review by Bobby Blakey
It’s always a challenge to bring those popular kid’s books to life on the big screen, especially in live action format when it involves talking animals. Every so often though some deliver like the recent Clifford The Big Red Dog and both awesome Paddington films. Now Bernard Waber best-selling book series Lyle, Lyle Crocodile is making its way to the big screen starring Javier Bardem, Constance Wu, Winslow Fegley, Brett Gelman and Shawn Mendes from Blades of Glory and Office Christmas Party directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon at the helm. Could this film successfully bring the book to life or will it fail to hit a single note?
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile follows the Primm family who move to New York City where their young son Josh struggles to adapt to his new school and new friends. All of that changes when he discovers Lyle - a singing crocodile who loves baths, caviar and great music-living in the attic of his new home. The two become fast friends, but when Lyle’s existence is threatened by evil neighbor Mr. Grumps, the Primms must band together with Lyle’s charismatic owner, Hector P. Valenti, to show the world that family can come from the most unexpected places and there’s nothing wrong with a big singing crocodile with an even bigger personality.
It's always an interesting idea to try and bring these popular children’s books to the big screen whether they be animated or live action. The trailers for Lyle were hit and miss, but looked to try and follow a similar formula of the Paddington films so I was willing to give it a shot as I openly admit to loving both of them and not just because Nicolas Cage says to. What I didn’t know was that it was going to be a musical. I knew there would be some singing,
but unaware that the only way Lyle speaks is in song hence quite a few song and dance numbers. This makes for an interesting approach to the source material, but not one that really offers much outside of average at best.
I wanted to love this movie just for its silliness, source material and ideal being in general, but it was hard. Not because it’s a boring or horrible film in anyway, but mostly just because it is all over the place and often times so generic it doesn’t leave to much of a mark. The story is one that you obviously have to buy into right out the gate for it to have any chance of working. There is no explaination to his ability to sing and I am fine with that, but there is also way too many people accepting it to quickly. I know that is part of the idea to just let it be, but I feel this needed some sort of story more than it offers.
Instead it follows the usual formula that plays out by the numbers with little in the way of surprise or fresh material. Despite this it does in fact offer up some laughs and heart way more than you might expect. The fun that it brings is entertaining and will no doubt be a fun ride for the younger audiences, but the parents might get worn out quickly. The visuals work better than I expected. While its not the best CGI we’ve seen it does mesh decent enough with the real world around it for you to get invested in the story elements and just let it happen. The cast seem to be having a good time so it does help the chemistry that is here deliver, but there is just something missing form the whole thing that left me feeling like it was a missed opportunity.
It will be interesting to see how this film connects with the younger crowd and if nothing else maybe it will spark new interest in the book series. In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including bloopers, deleted scenes, music videos, sing-alongs, featurettes and more.
Grab your scarf and prepare to dance with Lyle, Lyle Crocodile available now on digital, 4K, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Home Entertainment.