The Really Sweet Reason Why Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile’s Directors Wanted To Adapt The Children’s Book Into A Movie

Lyle sticking head out of a taxi in Lyle Lyle Crocodile
(Image credit: Sony)

In less than two weeks, a musical led by a singing and dancing crocodile will be out in the world. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a live-action/animation hybrid family film that brings the beloved character to life after being introduced in the 1960s in a two-dimensional children’s storybook. When CinemaBlend spoke to the directors behind the 2022 book-to-movie adaptation, Will Speck and Josh Gordon shared a sweet reason why they wanted to take Lyle’s story to the big screen. 

Alongside a handful of other outlets, CinemaBlend had the opportunity to visit Sony Pictures recently and preview footage from the film and chat with the filmmakers. When I asked the directors about their inspiration for the flick, Speck said this: 

It's funny because the book was written in the '60s and there was sort of like a period of children's literature that was sort of in the kind of like rejiggering of what children's literature was at the time that was sort of like Corduroy and Charlotte's Web… even like Where The Wild Things Are, where there's sort of this kind of undercurrent of something other than just what appears on the surface. And what we loved about the book was the original author worked in advertising and he really missed his family every day. And he would sit at his desk and doodle, and he would imagine that he was a surrogate in the form of this crocodile spending time with his family, because he couldn't. So there's something kind of that we picked up on about kind of the longingness and the loneliness, but also like the idea that in your absence something could come in and bring your family unexpected joy.

The Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile book and its predecessor, The House on East 88th Street, were written by Bernard Waber, who initially launched his career as a commercial artist before getting into penning and illustrating books. Waber reportedly had three children as he worked at the art department of Condé Nast Publications and wrote in his downtime, partially as a way to connect with the longing he had regarding being away from his home and children. The directors of the upcoming big fall movie were inspired by this element of the film’s origins so much that they wanted to helm the big screen version. Co-director Josh Gordon also said this: 

I think also for us, the story, whether it meant to or not, is really about acceptance. It's about fear of the other. And it's about finding your voice, both themes that felt important to put out into the world. And we have kids now and wanted to kind of reintroduce a new generation to those themes.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile sounds like it has good vibes, especially for families. So far, from what I got to see from the movie, it’ll be a great pick for fans of musicals. The filmmakers enlisted Benj Pasek & Justin Paul to make it a full-blown musical after the composing pair notably worked on La La Land and The Greatest Showman. You can see a bit of the movie’s musical numbers with the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile trailer

The movie stars Shawn Mendes as Lyle, following his success as a musician, who has put out four hit-making studio albums at the age of 24. As the filmmakers also told us during the Sony set visit, the croc inherited Mendes’ personality, describing both him and his character as a “gentle genius.” Alongside Mendes, the movie stars Javier Bardem as Hector P. Valenti, Lyle’s owner, as well as Constance Wu, Winslow Fegley and Scoot McNairy as the Primm family, who are key to the movie’s storyline. 

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile hits theaters on October 7 against David O. Russell’s Amsterdam and more spooky offerings throughout the month. Get to know even more about the movie here on CinemaBlend. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.