Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Reviews Are Here, See What Critics Are Saying About the Musical Book Adaptation

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Many of us are familiar with Lyle, the friendly crocodile who lived with the Primm family in the house on East 88th Street, but we’ve certainly never seen him portrayed as we will when Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile hits theaters on October 7. Pop singer Shawn Mendes stars as the voice of the titular reptile. Based on that bit of casting, you can glean that this children’s story has been turned into a full-blown musical for the big screen, with original music from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (The Greatest Showman, Dear Evan Hanson and La La Land). Critics have had the chance to screen the movie ahead of its release, so let’s see what they think.

Alongside Shawn Mendes’ pipes, the live-action stars of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile include Winslow Fegley, Oscar winner Javier Bardem, Constance Wu, Scoot McNairy and Stranger Things standout Brett Gelman. Let’s see what critics are saying, starting with CinemaBlend’s review of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. Our own Sarah El-Mahmoud rates the movie 2 stars out of 5, saying that while Bardem delivers, the rest of the movie is “all melody and no pizzazz.” She says: 

But while the live-action/CGI hybrid adaptation of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a well-intentioned family film that has some whimsy and doesn’t take itself too seriously, there’s quite a bit missing here. It doesn’t pull off that magic trick that movies like Mary Poppins or Paddington have done before it – you know, the one to make some part of you to want a croc to take a bathtub in your home.

Robert Abele of The Wrap agrees with the above assessment about Javier Bardem being a standout in a movie that otherwise just feels like an attempt to cash in on Paddington’s success. The review says: 

There has to be something at the other end of the quality spectrum from the joyful do-good magic of Paddington, and this overwrought, clunky creature-teacher-feature from Office Christmas Party directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon and screenwriter Will Davies (Flushed Away), with a new batch of forgettable songs from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, The Greatest Showman), fits the bill handily.

Jude Dry of IndieWire says this adaptation of a beloved children’s book proves that nothing is safe or sacred in Hollywood. The critic gives Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile a grade of B-, saying: 

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a distinctly 2022 Hollywood concoction. It combines the fun of a cute animated crocodile with the bopping charms of a musical, and throws in the few odd characters like Hector and Mr. Grumps to keep the grown-ups chuckling. The smoothly bland Pasek and Paul songs will get many repeat Spotify plays from kids who likely won’t see the movie. On paper, it should all work. But, like Hector’s act, it’s just missing that magic factor.

Chase Hutchinson of Collider grades the movie a C+, also noting that it lacks the magic needed to make a memorable or nostalgic experience: 

The target demographic of kids are more likely to get bored than anything else because of just how long it keeps going. We get glimpses of slapstick and silliness though not enough to really appreciate for more than a fleeting moment. There is enough material here for about a good 90-minute comedy at the absolute maximum and the longer this goes on the more it starts to wear thin. For kids who grew up on the books, there isn’t much that will be recognizable save for the basic structure of the plot.

Frank Scheck of THR, however, says kids are likely to enjoy the “undeniably adorable” crocodile, even if audiences are likely to forget the original music before they’ve even left the theater. He says: 

It’s all harmless fun, containing enough mild laughs and genuinely sweet moments (if you can contain your emotions during the reunion scene between Lyle and Hector, you’re made of stronger stuff than I am) to keep its target audiences entertained. The adult performers go through their paces with the sort of good humor one expects, but doesn’t always get, from actors being made to do very silly things. Bardem goes further than that, hamming it up entertainingly and clearly relishing the rare opportunity to be a song-and-dance man, albeit not a very good one.

While the critics don’t seem to think this movie meets the expectations set by similar nostalgia grabs like Paddington and other iconic children's movies, aspects including Shawn Mendes’ singing voice and Javier Bardem’s performance were positive takeaways from Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. If you’d like to accompany the younger members of your family to this musical affair, you can do so starting Friday, October 7. Also be sure to check out our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to see what else is hitting theaters soon. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.