Hector Valenti just knows he’s this close to achieving fame and, more importantly, getting rich. If he can simply find the right act, the hit talent show Show Us What You Got will sign him, and he’ll be right on his way to wealthy stardom.
Unfortunately, his singing audition didn’t work, and his magic act wasn’t quite refined enough: Those pigeons just wouldn’t leave his top hat. Maybe it’s time to try another animal, he thinks.
And when he visits an exotic pet store, he finds exactly what he’s looking for: a singing crocodile whom he names Lyle. Now, with Lyle at his side, there’s nothing holdin’ him back. He’ll rent a stage to showcase Lyle’s talent. And as soon as Lyle starts to sing, reality fame will be right around the corner.
Well, except for the fact that Lyle has horrific stage fright, choking up at the first sight of the audience.
That’s particularly bad news for Hector. He just put his house up as collateral for the theater, and a non-singing crocodile doesn’t exactly rake in the needed cash. So now, Hector has to leave to get more money, leaving Lyle living in the attic of his Manhattan apartment while he’s away.
That was 18 months ago, and now, the Primm family is moving into that same Manhattan apartment—unaware that their whole world is about to become a bit more … reptilian.
Though much can be said about the dubious qualities of Hector’s greed for money, he doesn’t get angry at Lyle for his stage fright, even though it means he loses his apartment as a result. Though Hector never fully gets over his desire for money, he does learn that it’s not as important as genuine relationships.
Lyle’s singing and actions help each member of the Primm family to become more confident in their respective areas of life: for young Josh, it’s confidence in school. For Josh’s mother, she becomes closer with Josh (as she had briefly struggled with not being Josh’s biological mother), and she learns to let him experience some things by himself. And for Josh’s father, he becomes a more confident and competent teacher.
In turn, Josh shows concern when Hector pushes Lyle to perform with him on stage. Josh recognizes that Lyle doesn’t want to sing for an audience; he just wants to be with a family. And when the stage performance goes poorly, Josh has encouraging words to say.
“Just so you know,” Josh tells Lyle, “I don’t care if you sing or not. I still think you’re awesome.”
Additionally, at a moment when Josh believes all hope is lost, another character tells him that he shouldn’t give up hope because miracles can still happen.
A song lyric reads, “Something’s ready to wreck your day, you can pray that it goes away, or let something wild and wonderful break through.” Otherwise, nothing else, unless you count seeing a poster for the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Josh’s parents share a few quick kisses throughout the film. Hector bathes in the tub with Lyle, though nothing is shown. Additionally, Josh’s father walks in on Hector while he’s in the shower: nothing more than his chest is shown to the audience, but Josh’s father, unfortunately, does not have the same good fortune.
Lyle is also walked in on by Josh’s mom, and he “covers up” with his scarf (though he’s typically not wearing clothes throughout the film anyway). Josh’s father wears a tight wrestling singlet during a wrestling match. Josh’s mother is seen in a sports bra. Lyle accidentally gets underwear from a clothesline stuck on his head. Josh’s dad finds that his wife is happier than usual, and he asks her if there’s someone else, alluding to an affair. Hector slaps his rear in a dance.
Josh’s dad and Lyle have an intense wrestling match. Josh is slammed to the ground during wrestling practice. Josh is nearly hit by a car when he runs out into traffic. A mugger attempts to take Josh’s phone, and Lyle spits up on the man, causing him to flee. Lyle accidentally swallows a cat when it jumps into his mouth. (Not to worry though, as it is soon vomited back out.)
Hector breaks into a zoo and handcuffs a guard to a fence. Hector is thrown from a moving vehicle by angry loan sharks. Hector causes a man to slip on marbles. Josh’s father tackles a man. Wildlife Control prod and tranquilize Lyle. A crocodile (one who isn’t Lyle) tries to eat a man. A sidecar crashes into a theater. A cat is slammed against the back of a car window (from the inside) when the vehicle suddenly speeds up.
God’s name is misused four times. In the song “Rip Up the Recipe,” a lyric reads “when the sugar hits the fan,” a reference to a much more unsweet saying.
A couple of characters have a glass of wine. Mr. Gross asks if Hector has been drinking, to which Hector replies that he has because he finds the world is better with a glass of champagne.
A man named Mr. Grumps is, indeed, quite grumpy and rude. He even goes so far as to say that people make the “mistake” of having a second child. Josh, his mother and Lyle dumpster dive together, and Lyle forces Josh to eat some food from the garbage. Josh says he hates someone. The underaged Josh flees police and drives a motorcycle.
Josh and his mother belch. A crocodile passes gas. A cat has diarrhea. And while we don’t see the end result, we do see the cat’s processes and hear flatulating noises.
[Spoiler Warning] We discover that Hector sold out Lyle for money, allowing Mr. Grumps to call Wildlife Control to take the crocodile away.
I distinctly remember cracking open Bernard Waber’s children’s book Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile when I was little. The lovable reptile brought joy to everyone around him (apart from the incessantly irate Mr. Grumps).
I think very few could have guessed, however, that the crocodile would one day get his own musical comedy film with songs written by the same guys who wrote the music for The Greatest Showman. Even fewer, likely, would have put money on Shawn Mendes voicing (or, more accurately, singing) Lyle.
True to his nature, the Lyle in this movie boosts the spirits of everyone he meets—most notably, the Primm family. Each of them are quite terrified when they cross paths with Lyle in their house—which, that’s quite understandable. I’d freak out too if I found a croc in my hallway, no matter how well it wears its scarf. But once Lyle reveals his ability to sing and affirms that he’s, indeed, not a threat, he changes the Primm family’s lives for the better.
As for the film’s content, parents can expect your standard children’s movie toilet humor. But they also may want to hear of a couple other issues that, while not awful, might feel a bit inappropriate in a kid’s film: a couple references to drinking, a couple misuses of God’s name, a couple jokes centralized on being walked in on while showering. Jokes like these (and a few more, more fully explained in our respective content sections) might cause some considerations to be had.
Yes, the plot sometimes feels like it could use some work, and a couple of characters could be more refined. But that’s my adult brain talking—the kids won’t care about that. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is generally a fun movie that points to its source material while still taking some creative liberties to make the story a bit more engaging for adults tagging along with their kids to see it.
Parents should, however, check out the mild content concerns listed in our full review to determine whether they’ll leave their crocodile viewings to visits to the zoo.
Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”