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Blu-ray Review: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

December 13, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Based on the classic 1960s picture books by Bernard Waber, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a modestly enjoyable live action musical featuring original songs by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul that follows the adventures of a singing crocodile in New York City.

The title character, Lyle (voiced by Shawn Mendes), is a non-verbal crocodile who communicates through singing. He is first adopted by Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem), a struggling magician looking for a new creature to use in his act, but Lyle’s terrible stage fright causes problems on their opening night.

When Hector goes to find his fortune elsewhere, Lyle is left behind in the attic at the house on East 88th Street (also the title of Waber’s first book), when a boy named Josh Primm (Winslow Fegley) moves into the home with his father (Scoot McNairy) and stepmother (Constance Wu). Josh is the obligatory lonely boy who is struggling to fit in at his new school, and finds a friend in Lyle. But crocodiles aren’t exactly accepted out and about in New York City, and their cranky cat-person neighbour Mr. Grumps (Brett Gelman) has it in for him.

Directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon (Blades of Glory, Office Christmas Party), Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is very much a family film, but it has a sweetness to it that can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone. The adapted screenplay by William Davies (whose previous credits include How to Train Your Dragon, Johnny English, and Twins) is predictable basically to a tee, following the beats of countless other anthropomorphic animal movies, but it’s a charming enough endeavour for us not to mind.

Bardem is a lot of fun to watch as Hector, throwing himself into the role of an eccentric magician and fully embracing the singing, dancing and physical comedy demands of the character. Mendes lends credibility to Lyle with his genuine vocal chops, belting out the new songs and a couple old tunes with aplomb. The Pasek & Paul songs are catchy and fun, the crocodile is cute, and the film has a good heart to it. The whole thing has a surprisingly endearing quality, and these are all things that make Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile a genial and pleasant good time.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray includes a handful of bonus features, ranging from sing-alongs and music videos to a couple of featurettes. A regular DVD and code for a digital copy are also included in the package, which ships with a slipcover.

Sing-Along Songs (Play All – 8 minutes, 7 seconds): Four song numbers from the film presented with on-screen lyrics.

“Top of the World” (2 minutes, 50 seconds)

“Rip Up the Recipe” (1 minute, 1 second)

“Take a Look at Us Now” (48 seconds)

“Carried Away” (3 minutes, 36 seconds)

Bloopers (2 minutes, 8 seconds): Your standard issue blooper reel.

Croc and Roll – Lyle On Set (2 minutes, 32 seconds): Cast and crew jokingly talk about working with Lyle on-set in this tongue-in-cheek piece.

Take a Look at Us Now – The Cast (7 minutes, 28 seconds): The cast discuss their roles in the film, with co-directors Speck and Gordon talking about casting Mendes to provide the singing voice for the titular gentle giant.

Storytime Featuring Shawn Mendes and Javier Bardem (9 minutes, 21 seconds): Members of the cast and the two co-directors take turns reading aloud from Waber’s 1962 picture book The House on East 88th Street, over a mix of book illustrations and scenes from the film.

“Top of the World” Music Video (2 minutes, 52 seconds)

“Carried Away” Music Video (3 minutes, 54 seconds)

Josh Learns About Lyle’s Stage Fright – Deleted Scene (2 minutes, 6 seconds)

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a Sony Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 107 minutes and rated G.

Street Date: December 13th, 2022

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