Sony Animation’s newest film, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” based on the book by Bernard Waber, aims to refresh a classic children’s story and succeeds through its top-notch cast and stellar musicality. Award winning artist Shawn Mendes’ (Lyle) renditions of both original and covered songs will be stuck in your head for days. While it is slightly childish, this film is an eccentric, family fun musical that is so charming that viewers won’t mind.
The film centers around Lyle, his owner Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem) and the Primm family. Hector is a washed-up magician looking for a fresh act when he stumbles upon Lyle, a singing crocodile. When Lyle gets stage fright and Hector evidently loses his home, Hector abandons Lyle at the house. The Primm family moves in and after some initial fear of him, they connect with Lyle.
This film is about finding your place in the world. This theme is most notably seen when Lyle helps Josh Primm (Winslow Fegley) work through his anxiety about moving. Lyle serves as a loyal companion to a lonely Josh and teaches him how to open up. This prompted a strong relationship between the two, and allowed for many sweet scenes, reaffirming the film’s charm.
In addition to a well thought-out plot, the movie features an incredible soundtrack. It contains a mix of original songs from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and classic songs such as Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke,” that help relate with older audiences. Shawn Mendes’ rendition of his original song “Top of the World ” successfully expands upon Lyle and Josh’s relationship, and showcases Mendes’ talent and charisma as Lyle.
Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Hector P. Valenti is another strong performance. Bardem stuns audiences, with his skillful singing and dancing abilities, while also managing to steal the scene every chance he gets.
The Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) was surprisingly well done and made the mix between live action and animation seamless. Specifically in the scenes where Lyle dances, the CGI looked realistic and didn’t distract from the plot.
While the film wins audiences over with its uplifting themes, there are slight issues with certain plot devices. The outdated narrative that Mrs. Primm (Constance Wu) needs to take a step back from her successful cooking career to spend more time with her son, while Mr. Primm (Scoot McNairy) becomes the breadwinner is not a good message to send. This adds a stereotypical plotline that is unfavorable to audiences.
Additionally, a repetitive effort to try and connect with teenage audiences by referencing social media trends, such as Tik Tok dances, falls flat due to it feeling forced. The movie can stand on its own without relating to an older audience, and the reference of social media trends diminishes its charm.
“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” provides a fast paced, engaging story that viewers can mindlessly enjoy regardless of age. I would recommend this to anyone looking to escape into a fantasy world that is jam-packed with catchy songs and humorous scenes.