Don’t you love it when there’s new streaming content to enjoy from your couch? The new animated adventure musical film Arlo the Alligator Boy is available on Netflix now.
In the new animated movie, a young humanoid alligator travels to the big city in hopes of reuniting with his father, meeting a colorful cast of characters along the way. Ryan Crego makes his directorial debut with Arlo the Alligator Boy, and it also has a stacked cast. Former American Idol contestant Michael J. Woodard makes his acting debut as Arlo, and Mary Lambert, Flea, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, and Jonathan Van Ness also star. The movie will be followed by a 20-episode TV series on Netflix titled I Heart Arlo, also premiering this year. Critics have begun sharing their thoughts about the animated musical film, so check out what they’re saying.
Let’s start with Petrana Radulovic from Polygon. Radulovic thinks Arlo The Alligator Boy feels more like a long pilot episode than an actual movie (which makes sense, as the movie is going to be followed up with the TV show). She commented that the movie set up characters and concepts but failed to fully develop them. Radulovic did enjoy the fantastical designs and musical numbers of the film, as well as the message of celebrating differences, but overall felt it was just designed to introduce the characters and settings for the eventual show.
Ultimately, everything about Arlo the Alligator Boy feels like a setup for something yet to come. That isn’t an inherently bad thing, but it does shift the audience’s expectations for the movie.
Kristy Puchko from Pajiba enjoyed that the animated adventure film is about a boy finding himself through community, brought to life in a vibrant and unique way and giving kids “queer representation with empathy, love, and unrepentant joy.” Puchko did have some criticism of the film, though. She noted that the songs aren’t very catchy, and her biggest qualm with the movie is that it underserves the group dynamic and the inclusion of the supporting characters. But overall, she said:
With a smile on his face and a song in his heart, Arlo presents queer kids a path to self-discovery that need not be defined by self-doubt and pain. That on it’s own will make this movie a must-see for a lot of families, chosen or not. All in all, Arlo The Alligator Boy is something special, offering silliness and songs along with lots of love, hope, and pride.
Arlo The Alligator Boy is definitely taking some heat from critics, who see the project as more of a long pilot episode for the eventual TV series coming to Netflix. Still, the animated movie has been praised for its various musical numbers, as ComicBook's Rollin Bishop put it,
In some ways, it feels like the fact that the show exists at all means that the movie is overstuffed to the point it is -- leaving certain threads unexplored -- in order to then leave fertile ground for the show. Taken on its own, however, it comes across as slightly incomplete. Those nitpicks aside, an animated musical is only as good as its music, and thankfully it’s spectacular throughout.
Netflix has put out a ton of family friendly content over the years, and Arlo The Alligator Boy appears to be another winner in that regard. ReadySteadyCut's Daniel Hart praised how audiences of all ages will be able to enjoy the new movie, writing:
Putting aside the warning, the Netflix family film sets the premise rather quickly, and it’s a joy to watch. Arlo’s sense of adventure into the city is an easy-to-watch experience. The team behind the film clearly wanted this film to be a shared experience with children and older adults able to watch it together without either getting bored.
The New York Times review by Amy Nicholson was somewhat middling, praising certain aspects of Arlo The Alligator Boy, while highlighting that the pop left something to be desired. In their words,
Long before the motley crew crashes the Met Gala, it’s clear that director Ryan Crego is bolting wacky gee-gaws onto a rote plot. Still, several gags pay off: wearable puppies; random lederhosen; rhyming references to the Jason Statham action movie The Meg; and, for the rare aficionado of both of kiddie cartoons about self-acceptance and the once X-rated classic Midnight Cowboy, a running bit where every New Yorker howls, 'I’m walkin’ here!'
Well, critics seem to have somewhat middling reviews of Arlo the Alligator Boy. But what will general audiences think? Will kids think the songs are plenty catchy enough? We'll soon find out, as the movie musical is available on Netflix now.
If you're ready to plan your next movie-going adventure after Arlo the Alligator Boy, check out our 2021 movie release guide.