Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): A singing crocodile in the attic

“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” did not click that well with me somehow despite a number of nice things to enjoy. As a matter of fact, I got actually more interested when its end credits showed a series of drawings probably influenced by Bernard Waber’s two classic children’s stories on which the movie is based, and I even considered checking them out someday just for curiosity.

The story is about one singing crocodile living in the attic of one of the old brownstone houses in the middle of Manhattan, and the opening part of the movie shows us how he was adopted by a struggling magician named Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem). While looking for any animal useful for his magic performance, Hector happened to encounter a little baby crocodile who could sing pretty well, and he immediately took him to his residence for more practice after naming this small crocodile, yes, Lyle. Thanks to Hector’s support and help, Lyle came to develop his singing talent more and more, but, alas, he happened to have a stage fright during what was supposed to be a big breakthrough for both him and Hector, and, due to losing his residence as a consequence, Hector had no choice but to depart while leaving Lyle in the attic of his residence.

Several years later, a family moves into the house without any idea on who has been residing in its attic. While Mr. Primm and Mrs. Primm (Scoot McNairy and Constance Wu) are excited about living in the middle of Manhattan, their son Josh (Winslow Fegley) is rather nervous about adjusting to his new environment, and his loving parents certainly pay some attention to him when he goes to his new school, though that still does not lessen his constant anxiety much.

At one night, Josh happens to hear a strange sound from the attic. When he eventually goes up there despite his nervousness, he comes across Lyle, and he is certainly frightened at first, but, after having one accidental nocturnal adventure outside the house, he comes to befriend Lyle, and Lyle gladly shows him how he has survived during the ongoing absence of Hector (You may wince more than once if you have any aversion to food trash, by the way).

In addition, Lyle occasionally demonstrates his singing talent via the voice of Shawn Mendes, and that surely charms not only Josh but also his mother, who is also quite scared during her first encounter with Lyle but then finds herself becoming much more spirited than before as she and Lyle sing together. In case of Mr. Primm, he remains rather oblivious to what is going on in the house for a while, but then he also comes to meet Lyle in the end, and Lyle also makes Mr. Primm a lot livelier than before.

Around that point, Hector returns to the house, and the mood becomes a bit awkward between him and Lyle as well as the Primms, but the movie keeps bouncing as usual. While still hoping for that big break for him and Lyle, Hector also brings lots of fun and excitement for Lyle and the Primms, and the Primms come to accept Hector as a part of their daily life.

Of course, the situation becomes a little more complicated later mainly because of a grumpy neighbor living in the basement, who certainly does not welcome all the fun and excitement unfolded right above him. When his pet cat has some unpleasant trouble as spending more time with Lyle and Josh, this mean dude decides to take some action against the Primms and Lyle, and the following consequence certainly breaks Josh’s heart.

What follows next is pretty predictable to say the least. Yes, Josh becomes quite determined to help his dear crocodile friend as much as possible. Yes, despite betraying Lyle at one point, Hector also decides to help Lyle, and he soon comes to work together along with Josh. Yes, the climax part eventually culminates to a big moment when Lyle must overcome his persistent stage fright, and we all already know how this moment will end.

Nevertheless, the movie engaged me to some degree due to its likable aspects. Although I often regarded Lyle as a mere CGI figure during my viewing, he became more endearing to me along the story, and his several musical scenes are effective thanks to the solid songs by Benj Pasek and Justic Paul. While the songs in the movie are not that memorable compared to the ones from “La La Land” (2016) or “The Greatest Showman” (2017), they work in the context of the story at least, and Mendes ably handles them on the whole.

In case of the several cast members surrounding Lyle, they did an adequate job of filling their respective spots. While Javier Bardem willingly shows a more cheerful side of his talent, Constance Wu and Scoot McNairy have each own moment for our little amusement, and Winslow Fegley, who was wonderful in his first feature film “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made” (2020), holds his own place well among his adult co-stars.

In conclusion, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”, directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon, does not reach to the level of “Paddington” (2014) and its 2017 sequel, but it has some fun and charm at least. While I do not recommend it for now, I will not stop you from watching it if you happen to some free time to spend, and, who knows, you may be charmed more than me.

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