I hadn’t heard of Lyle Lyle Crocodile before, despite being based on a children’s book by Bernard Waber that was published back in the 1960s. But when I saw the trailer for Lyle Lyle Crocodile’s new live action film directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon, with its screenplay by William Davies, and original music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul who are also responsible for the original music of the hit movie musical The Greatest Showman, I was super excited.
We are first introduced in Lyle Lyle Crocodile to Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem) who is a charming magician that longs for fame, money, and success in his craft. However, the entertainment industry is a tough nut to crack, and want to see something they’ve never seen before that is both fresh and exciting. Hector believes his luck has changed when he stumbles across a singing crocodile that he affectionately names Lyle.
Cut to a little over a year later, a family has moved into the premises in New York City where Hector used to live, and Lyle unexpectedly ends up becoming part of the family, befriending young, unconfident, anxious and awkward Josh (Winslow Fegley). What entails the rest of the film after a quick introduction to the characters is the most wonderful and wholesome journey filled with love, friendship, magic, and song.
I found Winslow Fegley to be surprisingly delightful as Josh and a very relatable character. His on-screen chemistry with Lyle is fantastic, but it is even more insane to know that he has excellent on-screen chemistry with a CGI character which is no ordinary feat.
Javier Bardem is brilliant in this film. I wasn’t aware he could sing and dance, and after seeing Lyle Lyle Crocodile, I am convinced that this man can do anything. Anything! Bardem really holds his own despite singing alongside a professional with Shawn Mendes. Bardem’s magnificent talents and the excellent script combine to successfully help shape and provide the film with an excellently flawed character that you can’t help but love.
However, the true heroes of Lyle Lyle Crocodile are the special effects and its music, with CGI animation providing Lyle with so much soul. Unlike other live action style animations that fail to provide personality and emotion, Lyle Lyle Crocodile delivers with a sentimental crocodile that we easily quickly grow to adore. For a crocodile who can only sing and not talk, there are so many emotions in Lyle’s facial expression and eyes that are super impressive and make you want to hug him.
Music composition duo Pasek and Paul have outdone themselves with the most gorgeously catchy tunes that will inspire you to listen to them on repeat long after you’ve left the cinema. While I was surprised at first, I must admit, Shawn Mendes was the perfect choice to give Lyle his voice. Mendes is already known for his excellent songwriting and beautiful voice, but to sing something specifically written for the role and character, and to still invoke so much power, emotion and personality is phenomenal. The best part is, when I was watching the film, not once did I think of Mendes, I was completely convinced and captivated that this singing voice was Lyle.
While there are various original songs within the film that are part of Lyle Lyle Crocodile’s great soundtrack, the stand outs originals are by far ‘Take A Look At Us Now’, a heart-warming upbeat duet by both Bardem and Mendes, and ‘Top Of The World’ which is a sweet solo by Mendes that also plays a role in the film as Lyle’s character growth moment and is essentially the film’s anthem.
There’s a lot to love about Lyle Lyle Crocodile. It is clever, uplifting, and a lot of fun for everyone to enjoy. Lyle Lyle Crocodile is the most wholesome film that is full of so much song and heart, and it owns mine.