I don’t want readers to think I got “Carried Away” by giving LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE a positive review. Although I loved it, it doesn’t quite soar to the “Top of the (GREATEST SHOWMAN) World.” However, it does “Rip Up the Recipe” to create an experience that’s much better than the mediocre trailer leads audiences to believe.
Benji Pasek and Justin Paul wrote original songs for THE GREATEST SHOWMAN and LYLE, LYLE CROCODILE, and both musicals share a similar Rotten Tomatoes score story:
- THE GREATEST SHOWMAN had a 56% rotten critic and 86% fresh audience score.
- LYLE, LYLE CROCODILE has a 70% fresh critic and 94% audience score.
So, I have to ask the question – why do critics not like musicals that win over people’s “heartbeat?” Both movies have amazing musical magic in search of an original film to support them. To that, I say – who cares. If 80% or more of a movie is music that sings from the screen – does the story matter that much? Nope, not really.
So what else makes this surprisingly good movie worthy of your time?
- Javier Bardem may not be “the greatest showman,” but he plays an aging version of it to sad perfection in LYLE. He steals the show, and it’s a damn shame that the script removes him from the story for at least half of the film. His “Take a Look at Us Now” song is the heart, while Lyle’s is the CGI beat.
- Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. These two gents ARE “the greatest showmen.” They continue to write catchy hits that get stuck in your head. I can’t think of anyone working in musicals today at their level outside of Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- Shawn Mendes as Lyle actually works! I’m calling it now. Shawn Mendes will be a Broadway star in the future.
So what prevents LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE from swimming?
- There’s not enough music. About 70% of the movie is music. It needed another 10% or at least one more original from Pasek and Paul to be a classic. In fact, after the opening number, the movie goes quiet for nearly thirty minutes with no songs. 😳
- Brett Gelma as Mr. Grump. I don’t mean to be a “grump” since Brett Gelma is so good in STRANGER THINGS, but his performance in LYLE feels like it’s from another movie. To play a Roald Dahl-worthy awful villain, an actor has to go to the extreme to make it work and have it be funny (see Jim Carrey in SONIC and Neil Patrick Harris in LEMONY SNICKET). Gelma goes to the extreme but leaves the funny behind.
- Mr. Primm is a snooze. This is not Scoot McNairy’s fault. It’s simply an uninspired role when compared to the mom played by Constance Wu. She “Rips Up the Recipe” and sings/dances, while McNairy has to “wrestle” with a poorly conceived father figure.
I do not have any “stage fright” in admitting that I enjoyed LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE. Although the creators don’t show us “something we’ve never seen before,” they give us just enough to recommend.
It’s available in theatres now.