Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile: A Charming Tale, not so charming CGI
Watched on Netflix
"Who wants to be safe? We are here to live, and living is a dangerous business."
"Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile," the 2022 cinematic adaptation of the beloved children's book by Bernard Waber, offers audiences a nostalgic journey into the heart of East 88th Street, where Lyle, the friendly crocodile, resides. The film capably weaves a charming narrative of acceptance, friendship, and the blurring lines of the animal kingdom and suburban life. But while its heart is firmly in the right place, the visual execution falls short of the mark, ultimately detracting from the overall experience.
The story, at its core, is heartwarming and endearing. The Primm family's harmonious cohabitation with Lyle, and their shared adventures, fill the screen with warmth and a palpable sense of familial bonds. Lyle, with his unassuming helpfulness, becomes a fixture in the neighborhood, promoting a lovely message about the value of kindness, acceptance, and overcoming prejudices.
The dynamic between Lyle and Mr. Grumps, the disgruntled neighbor, forms the crux of the conflict. The character of Mr. Grumps, a stark contrast to the benevolent crocodile, serves to illustrate the sometimes irrational fear and biases people have towards the unknown. However, it's Lyle's enduring effort to win over Mr. Grumps that truly embodies the spirit of this tale: persistently showing kindness in the face of adversity.
Yet, where "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile" stumbles is its subpar CGI representation of Lyle. The potential emotional connection with the audience is hampered by the artificial appearance of our main character. Rather than the lifelike creature one might expect in a modern adaptation, Lyle comes off as a cartoonish entity, jarringly out of place in the otherwise real-world setting. The clunky and unpolished CGI detracts from the film's immersion, a flaw that's particularly glaring given Lyle's central role.
Despite the CGI disappointment, the film doesn't entirely miss its mark. Its score, setting, and talented human cast are commendable. The nostalgic vibe of New York City, beautifully realized in the set design and cinematography, provide a delightful backdrop to the narrative. In particular, the performances by the actors portraying the Primm family and Mr. Grumps are engaging and heartfelt.
In summary, "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile" is a charming film that captures the spirit of the original book, delivering a positive message about acceptance and kindness. However, the significant flaw in the CGI execution of Lyle dampens the overall experience. Fans of the book, and children unfamiliar with the source material, may still find plenty to enjoy here, but it's a shame that the visual representation of our titular character isn't up to par.