“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” offers a decent story and stunning music

Warning: this article contains spoilers.

A singing crocodile who loves caviar and bubble baths befriends a lonely boy in New York – that’s the gist of “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.” According to Bernard Waber series of children’s books, the film is simple, but what it lacks in complexity it makes up for in music.

Lyle (Shawn Mendes) is a crocodile who communicates exclusively through song, allowing for a brilliant combination of Mendes’ vocals and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the acclaimed songwriting team behind “The Greatest Showman.”

The film, which premieres Friday, follows the Primm family’s move to Manhattan, where their son Josh (Winslow Fegley) struggles to make friends at his new school. When he discovers Lyle living in his attic, everything changes for the better.

It’s unclear exactly why Josh’s life jumps from zero to 100 after encountering a crocodile with an affinity for pop music. This shift in dynamic is never truly explained, and Josh’s own insecurities never fully developed.

The film spends less time elaborating on the underlying motivations behind Lyle and Josh’s narrative and more time describing Lyle’s connection to Josh’s mother and father through their respective relationships. interests.

Mrs. Primm’s (Constance Wu) career as a chef and that of her husband (Scoot McNairy) the glory days of a high school wrestler seem bizarre and directionless. Their past doesn’t come to fruition beyond a three-second sequence of Mr. Primm tackling the film’s antagonist, Mr. Grumps (Brett Gelman) in the middle of a courtroom after the family won a lawsuit allowing them to keep Lyle as a pet.

Even still, moments like these are silly and unrefined, with unfinished arcs and questionable moviemaking decisions bettered only by the acting prowess of Oscar winner Javier Bardem Wu. and I wish I could say Mendes, but let’s face it, he’s a CGI crocodile with no dialogue, though his vocals carry the movie over and over again.

Bardem plays Lyle’s charismatic owner Hector P. Valenti, who meets the Primms and reunites with Lyle just like Mr. Grumps threatens the family’s new crocodile-related happiness.

From start to finish, Bardem brings a certain joie de vivre to his role, imbuing Valenti with a performative warmth and vernacular that blend elegance with selfish amiability.

“All my life I’ve been scared because you’ve been scared,” Josh told his father after Lyle was taken away by the authorities.

This line could have invoked a far greater emotional resonance if Mr. Primm’s fears or anxieties had been integrated throughout the film. But all we really know about him is that he’s a math teacher and a former wrestling champion.

Exploring a character who gives up his dream to support his loved ones has the complexity and setting needed for an entire movie – and probably should have been developed enough throughout the story to induce greater tension in this pivotal scene.

What would be an otherwise flat storyline is bolstered by the film’s consistently heartfelt tone and frequent hilarity, such as Lyle swapping his usual crimson scarf for a Florida Gators. Jersey. It turns out to be the perfect disguise for a day, making him not just a die-hard fan of “The Orange and Blue,” but an even more realistic version of the college mascot.

Coupled with a talented cast and driving music from a musician of Mendes’ caliber, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” is flawed yet fun, silly yet entertaining from Lyle’s very first belt solo.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @andresbuena01

Related stories:

Reel Thoughts: ‘Luck’ is an unlucky animated feature with flashes of unfulfilled potential

‘The Greatest Beer Run Ever’ mixes action and comedy but lacks nuance

Reel Thoughts: ‘Morbius’ is a mess, but an entertaining mess at that

Previous Get ready for a musical and visual experience of Japanese culture
Next 10 TV Shows That Are Only Worth Animation