“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” is strictly a kids’ movie, or at least the first half an hour. As adults, watching a movie meant for kids feels like a wild ride. We can’t help but scoff at the simplicity of the solutions presented for rather complex problems, yet at the same time, we feel a burst of dopamine at the earnestness of them. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that a lot of the irritation and agitation of life come from the complications of adulthood. We identify with the adult characters in these movies, and therefore, it feels heartwarming when a child, uncorrupted by it all, reassures us that there might be a bit of magic somewhere that would solve our problems for us and make us feel safe and feel the happiness of childhood again. “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” gets this emotion on point. It succeeds where movies like “The School for Good and Evil” and “Slumberland” failed. Because it was clear about its audience instead of getting confused like the others. Let’s take a look at what happens in “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.”
Life With Lyle And The Primms
Hector P. Valenti is a down-on-his-luck magician and performer who is getting rejected from one show after the other. After one such rejection, as he is dejectedly walking the streets, he comes across a pet shop. Hector decides he might invest in a pet that he could use for his magic tricks, but surprisingly, he finds something better. He finds a crocodile named Lyle who can sing. Hector is over the moon, and he brings Lyle home. He also strikes a deal with a venue in which they agree to let him organize a show, and if that fails, they will sell his house. Hector trains with Lyle for a few months before they make their debut. But once on stage, Lyle is tongue-tied and unable to sing. Needless to say, their performance bombs, and Hector loses his house. He promises Lyle that he will come back soon and goes on the road to make some money.
18 months pass and the Primms move into the house. Mr. Primm is a schoolteacher, and Mrs. Primm is the author of some successful cookbooks who is currently taking a break to be a stay-at-home mom. Their son, Josh, is a nervous boy who is not very happy with his move to the city. Their neighbor is Alistair Grumps, who owns a cat named Loretta, and he clearly hates everyone and everything that is not him and his pet. It doesn’t take long before Josh discovers the crocodile in his attic. He panics, especially since it looks like Lyle ate Loretta, but a chase through the rooftops of New York later, when Lyle protects Josh from a thug, the little boy warms up to him. Loretta is safe, and Josh and Lyle become friends. One night, he asks him whether he can talk. No, Josh, he can’t talk, but he can sing, and he demonstrates that. We believe that Lyle connected with Josh when he learned that he had lost his mother at an early age. Thinking about it, we don’t know what happened to Lyle’s actual parents. The one father figure he had known in Hector had seemingly left him alone, so he must have understood Josh’s loneliness. But a secret crocodile in the attic cannot go unnoticed for long. Mrs. Primm discovers him soon enough and plans on calling “Animal Control”. But having witnessed his singing abilities and Josh’s earnest pleas, she holds off on it. It turns out to be a wise decision, as Lyle wins her over soon enough. Seeing his wife so happy and sensing her exhibiting some different habits, Mr. Primm asks her whether she has someone else in her life.
She tells Josh that they must let Mr. Primm know about Lyle. Which he does when he sees him come out of the room. As he is screaming and trying to leave the house with his family trying to hold him back, Hector comes back at that precise moment. Lyle is mad at him but gives in soon enough when they break out into their song-and-dance routine. Mr. Primm grudgingly accepts his presence, seeing that he is harmless. There are some happy moments with the family sans Mr. Primm, exploring New York as Gator fans to provide camouflage for Lyle. But our singing crocodile wins over Mr. Primm by playing a game with him, in which he willingly loses. Forgive us; we don’t know the name of the game, but we do know that as soon as Mr. Primm felt the rush of adrenaline following his win, he liked Lyle. It continues to be one big happy family with Hector in the mix, except for a hiccup when Lyle fails to perform once again in front of an audience, letting down another hope for Hector. But things are getting serious, and Mr. Grumps calls over the neighbors to complain about the family making too much noise in their house. Before things can get out of hand, Hector saves the day by pointing out that he has placed surveillance cameras all over the neighborhood without people’s consent. It is a temporary win that is soon overridden by the fact that “Animal Control” is called to take Lyle away. Josh begs him to sing to show that he is special and harmless, but Lyle is unable to once again. He is taken away to the zoo.
Josh is heartbroken, especially when he visits Lyle in the zoo. He suggests to his parents that they try and break him out of the zoo, but they tell him that it is not wrong for Lyle to live with other crocodiles. We don’t think they are wrong when they say this. But a further debate would bring out the fact that Lyle is not an average crocodile. He has exhibited a level of human intelligence, and he considers Josh to be his best friend. Clearly, he would feel as if he were away from his own family. Josh fires back, saying pretty much the same, and he tells his father that he has always been afraid of everything because he has seen his parents be afraid of everything. Mrs. Primm was constantly apprehensive about trying anything new, and Mr. Primm had definitely let go of some of his dreams in life. Are we detecting a sliver of generational trauma? Either way, Josh has a panic attack that triggers his asthma. Then onwards, he is constantly kept under check by his parents until one day, when he meets Hector while taking out the trash. Hector admits that he turned Lyle in because he was in dire need of money, so when Mr. Grumps offered him that, he couldn’t refuse. He tells Josh that he plans on helping Josh escape and asks for his help, but Josh doesn’t reply.
‘Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile’ Ending Explained: Does Lyle Sing On The Stage In Front Of Everyone?
Hector uses some of his tricks to get into the zoo, but when he meets Lyle, he is not interested in talking to him because of his betrayal. The other crocodiles start cornering Hector, and he is desperate when Josh shows up outside the cage and tells him that he must apologize to Lyle. Hector obviously stumbles at first, but he apologizes and tells Lyle that he deserves to be with the Primms. Having heard that, Lyle protects Hector, and they break out of the zoo. But the police have reached, and Josh decides that unless and until Lyle shows everyone that he is more than just an average crocodile, they won’t stop chasing him. He and Lyle take Hector’s scooter and gatecrash the venue for “Show us what you got.” They get on stage with Trudy’s help, but they face the same issue. Lyle is unable to sing. Josh tells him that he must do it and starts singing himself. Lyle eventually joins, and the world witnesses the talent of this anthropomorphic crocodile.
A month later, in court, Mr. Grumps makes a case for the fact that whatever his talent, a crocodile cannot live within residential premises. But Hector saves the day again. He brings some papers that show that their particular house is exempt from this rule. He has gotten this with the help of Loretta. Cats are really the most adorable menace to exist. The judge passes judgment in favor of Lyle, and Mr. Grumps is tackled by Mr. Primm before he can do anything else. A few days later, the Primms’ set off on their vacation with Lyle, who is now one of them. Hector has booked shows for Lyle, but clearly, that is not going to happen. However, as a saving grace, Trudy shows him her rattlesnake, who can beatbox. Hector decides to be his agent now.
Final Thoughts: What Works For “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”?
To be honest, what worked was that “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” was honest and did not try too hard. Yes, there are some deviations from its original source material and its namesake, which is a children’s book by Bernard Waber and its sequel, “The House on 88th Street.” But the changes kept the spirit of the story alive, with an innocent and sensitive crocodile finding a family of his own. “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” does suffer from some pacing issues, but they are restricted to the first half hour or so. It is perfect after that. Another point we would like to add is that the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Primm weren’t fully fleshed out. But doing that would have made this a movie for adults, so we forgive it. We would definitely recommend this movie to our friends. The music is decent; Constance Wu was amazing, and the expressions on Lyle were so on-point. A great watch that will leave you with a smile
“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” is a 2022 Drama Musical film directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck.