Lyle, Lyle Crocodile is a decent adaptation of the books featuring the sweet character.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) Review By Mark McPherson

Published on February 28, 2023

Rating 3 /5

It’d be so easy to mess up adapting another children’s book like Lyle Lyle Crocodile. This feels especially true for a film that aims to present a crocodile stumbling about a city while singing and dancing. Thankfully, this film doesn’t misstep with its whimsy. It presents a charming and vibrant musical for the iconic book character while never aggravating him to the point that adults will tear their hair out.

What helps make this film work is that Lyle doesn’t talk. He can sing but won’t waste his breath if there isn’t a musical number. The shy yet talented reptile attracts the eye of the performer Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem). The eccentric man who dabbles in magic and songs needs a new act and finds Lyle, a perfect song-and-dance animal. When Lyle is convinced of coming out of his shell, he can put on quite the show. The problem is that Lyle is shy and doesn’t exactly do his best on the stage. This would seem like the moment when Valenti kicks Lyle to the curb, but he’s patient with his pet. He does abandon him indirectly by seeking employment while leaving Lyle at home, where he’ll be safe.

Time passes, and Lyle handles new occupants in his New York home. The Primm family finds getting used to their new environment hard, especially their son Josh (Winslow Fegley), who is terrified of the house and his new school. Lyle, having grown much larger since Valenti’s absence, tries to comfort Josh with his best attributes. Charming musical numbers follow as Lyle convinces Josh that not only is this city-living crocodile not scary, but that life doesn’t have to be scary with someone present to help you out. This spills over into Lyle helping out Josh’s mother with her cooking skills in a fantastically chipper kitchen sequence, showcasing how impressive Lyle can hold a tune while baking cakes.

The film is not devoid of the familiar tropes, though. We still get such moments as Lyle being sold out for his abilities, being thrown into a zoo with less talented crocodiles, and making a wild escape complete with a comical car chase. The characters of Lyle and Hector make this film work simply because of their astounding charm. Bardem is chewing up the scenery in this role, where his most immense chemistry is with a CGI crocodile. Even as more of an imposing mooch and failed performer, his vibrant attitude is infectious. Lyle, spending no time talking, is easier to root for as the cute and cunning crocodile with a case of stage fright.

While it might seem tenuous to the younger crowd, the special effects are impressive for Lyle's many sequences cavorting with his human support cast. Lyle doesn’t just keep his distance from the humans in these elaborate sequences. He jumps, stomps, brushes against others, tosses flour, and even topples his returning owner. There’s a believable enough nature to replicate the sort of domesticated crocodile who appears in the book. He’s fun to watch, and his design is used well for various stylish scenes, from evenings on a city roof to appearing in costume on a big stage.

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile is a decent adaptation of the books featuring the sweet character. The kids who read the books will undoubtedly get a kick out of seeing Lyle come to life, and adults will probably sigh with relief that Lyle isn’t an obnoxious slick-talker divorced from his book personality. The solid performances, musical numbers, and convincing VFX help make this rather routine script shine a bit brighter, making for a pleasing family matinee.

Written By

Mark McPherson

Written By

Mark McPherson

Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.

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