Lyle, Lyle, CrocodilePG¦ 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD
Pets have a very special place in our hearts, especially when you consider how we happily invite them into our home to stay, being far more welcoming than possibly to another family member.
So it’s no surprise that so many works of popular fiction feature animals that have been adopted by families; some of them behave as you would expect from pets, where others actually have a voice and talk.
Here, though, is a slightly different proposition, which sees a crocodile with a unique talent end up living with a family.
Moving into a large brownstone apartment on East 88th Street, New York City, are the Primm family; young Josh (Winslow Fegley) and his dad (Scoot McNairy) and his step-mum (Constance Wu).
Little do they know however, that their attic room is still occupied by a previous resident, known as Lyle.
So when Josh goes up there and discovers him, he gets quite a shock – not by the fact that he’s there, but by the fact he’s a crocodile.
He’s not your average croc however, with a taste for elegant scarves over flesh. He’s more sophisticated than that, as he has a wonderful talent – for singing – despite never uttering a word.
But with an annoying neighbour ready to report them for the smallest of issues, how long can the Primms keep Lyle staying at their home a secret?
This is a story that has clearly been updated, as the character originally appeared in a book in 1965 written by Bernard Waber. It’s a premise that is oddly reminiscent of a classic British character, that of Paddington, and as he originated in 1958, it’s possible that Waber was inspired by his antics.
Where Lyle struggles to compete on the cuteness front is with his inability to talk. The only way he can communicate is by singing – featuring the voice of Shawn Mendes. And although the songs are pleasant enough, it would have been far more preferable if he could just talk, without all the warbling.
To that end, despite being a fairly decent CGI creation, the character is somewhat two dimensional, coming across as limited in expressing his emotions.
It doesn’t stop Javier Bardem however, from having a wonderful time, playing his owner Hector P. Valenti, as he literally lets his hair down for some song and dance numbers. Having played so many serious roles over the years, you can see the pure joy Bardem is having whenever he’s on screen.
The fact that there’s not even a reasonable excuse for Lyle being unable to talk, besides a hokey implication he’s shy, just adds to the film being irksome overall.
It’s surprising too, considering how edgy some of the previous work has been from directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck (which includes Blades of Glory, The Switch and Office Christmas Party), that this effort isn’t just family friendly but insipidly so.
If you’re going to invite a creature home to stay with you, we’ll take a hat wearing, marmalade eating bear over a singing croc any day of the week.