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Film REVIEW: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile - ★★★★

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Cast, songs, SFX & everything to know about the musical-comedy tipped as the new Paddington.

Shawn Mendes stars as a crooning croc in this live-action musical comedy from the team behind How To Train Your Dragon. From the SFX that created Lyle the crocodile to the new songs penned by The Greatest Showman maestros – not to mention Javier Bardem playing a good guy for once – here’s everything to get your teeth into.

Director: Will Speck, Josh Gordon

Writer: William Davies

Based on: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber

Stars: Javier Bardem, Constance Wu, Winslow Fegley, Scoot McNairy, Brett Gelman, Shawn Mendes.

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Themes: Based on Children's Book, Crocodile, New York City

Feature film based on the children's book about a crocodile that lives in New York City.

The film has received mixed reviews from critics.

In Cinemas Now


Nina (Age 10) - ★★★★★

"5 ️ for brilliant, 5 ️ for music, 5️ for hilarity. 5 ️For everything my fav part was when Lyle ate the cat"

Jan (Age 11) - ★★★

"Funny sometimes but too dramatic."

Have you seen it yet?


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile buzz - Why see this new crocodile movie?

No wonder crocodiles are typecast as the bad guys. Just look at them. A five-metre prehistoric eating machine with nature’s strongest bite, these scaly killers are right up there with the great white shark when it comes to spoiling a nice swim in the movies. Just ask Captain Hook, Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee or James Bond (who almost ended up on the menu in Live And Let Die).

But Lyle the crocodile isn’t like the other crocs. He’s kind. He’s cuddly. He prefers singing in the bath to death-rolling Amazon fisherman. He’s voiced by Canadian pop sweetheart Shawn Mendes. He wears a cashmere scarf, for goodness’ sake. And he’s the star of the new crocodile movie that your kids won’t stop talking about.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is the best thing to happen for reptile PR in decades – and the funniest family film of the month. Let’s bite off the biggest need-to-knows.


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile plot – What is this new crocodile movie about?

Before it was the season’s hottest family movie, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile was a beloved 1965 children’s book by Bernard Waber. Now, directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon (Blades of Glory, The Switch)– along with How To Train Your Dragon and Johnny English screenwriter William Davies – have kept the major plot points while juicing up the action for the can’t-sit-still generation.

Moving to New York has been a culture shock for Mr and Mrs Primm (Scoot McNairy - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Non-Stop and Constance Wu - Crazy Rich Asians, Wish Dragon) and the big city is proving a lonely place for their pre-teen son Josh (Winslow Fegley - 8-Bit Christmas, Nightbooks). But who’s the mysterious acapella singer rocking away in the upstairs bathroom…?

Meet Lyle, a saltwater crocodile with the voice of an angel and bubbles covering his naughty bits. Josh and Lyle are soon buddies, but when nasty neighbour Mr Grumps (Brett Gelman - Stranger Things, The Other Guys) plots to turn the reptile into a luggage set, the family must save the new arrival by teaming up with the croc’s crackpot owner, Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem - Dune).

I think the story of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is really about acceptance,” said Gordon in an interview with Collider. “It’s about fear of the other, and it’s about finding your voice – both themes that felt important to put out in the world.


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile cast – Who stars in this new musical comedy?

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile might be a live-action movie, but nailing the croc’s casting was still vital. Lyle has to be funny, cheeky, lovable and exasperating – not to mention blessed with a great set of lungs. In the end, the only actor who ticked all those boxes was Shawn Mendes – a planet-conquering pop star thanks to hits like Stitches, but pretty much unproven as a voice actor (unless you count 2013’s mostly forgotten Underdogs).

“Shawn really is the character of Lyle,” the directors told Mama’s Geeky. “He broke very young, while he was super vulnerable, and had huge amounts of pressure placed on him. And he’s a really good, nice, kind human being. He’s very transparent about what he’s going through and how he’s experiencing the world. And I think those are all great cues for us in terms of the themes of the movie about self-acceptance, finding your voice, and the need to feel loved and supported to become the best version of yourself.”


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile supporting cast – Why is this new family comedy unique among Javier Bardem movies?

Following his disfigured rogue agent in James Bond’s Skyfall, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is one of the few Javier Bardem movies in which the Oscar-winning Spanish actor doesn’t play a psycho. As the croc’s eccentric owner, Hector P. Valenti, he’s the flamboyant, madcap, reptile-snuggling presence at the heart of the movie.

But as Speck told Collider, Bardem took some convincing to sign on. “The studio said, ‘Well, you'll never get him, but good luck’. And then six Zooms later, Javier finally, reluctantly said yes. I think he was nervous about jumping into something that he perceived to be very comedic in his mind. Because he was really swinging out there.”


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile special effects – How did the SFX team create Lyle the crocodile?

The directors filmed Mendes singing in a vocal booth to capture his mouth movements and mannerisms, then developed the animated reptile around them. “Lyle is very much Shawn’s kind of personality, which is like this gentle genius,” co-director Will Speck told We Live Entertainment. “We learned a lot about the anatomy of a crocodile, which is mostly cartilage and a bill… you can see some lip articulation but we didn’t want it to be so flappy that it felt fake. So we’ve been trying to ride that line. But Shawn’s definitely a guide for the animators.”


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile soundtrack – What’s so exciting about the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile songs?

If you’ve watched the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile trailer, you’ll have already seen the reptile belting out Stevie Wonder’s classic Sir Duke. But while this new crocodile movie has plenty of great covers, it’s also a showcase for a set of zinging originals, from Shawn Mendes’ recent single Top Of The World to eight new songs penned by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, best-known as the writing partnership behind The Greatest Showman soundtrack and La La Land.

“I was able to do what I do best,” Mendes told Billboard of taking the role. “Plus, I relate to Lyle’s story and his character so much it felt natural. When I was approached to help make the music for the adaptation of such a classic book, it was a no-brainer and just such a fun departure from what I am used to.”


If you’re hungry for a winter warmer with plenty of heart, music and laughter, snap up tickets for Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.

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