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FILM OF THE WEEK LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE
(Cert PG, 106 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, available from November 28 on Amazon/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, Musical/Comedy/Fantasy/Adventure/ Romance)
Starring: Winslow Fegley, Constance Wu, Scoot McNairy, Javier Bardem, Brett Gelman, Lyric Hurd and the voice of Shawn Mendes.
Mr and Mrs Primm (Scoot McNairy, Constance Wu) move to New York City with their exceedingly anxious son Josh (Winslow Fegley).
A teenager struggles to fit in at his new school, where classmates including Kara (Lyric Hurd) chase fame on social media.
Josh gains new confidence and purpose when he encounters Lyle (voiced by Shawn Mendes), the singing crocodile who lives in the attic of their threestorey brownstone, once owned by conjurer Hector P Valenti (Javier Bardem).
The shy, sensitive reptile is warmly welcomed by the Primms but scheming downstairs neighbour Mr Grumps (Brett Gelman) and his cat Loretta, a silver-shaded Persian with a delicate constitution, are constantly watching the neighbourhood through CCTV cameras.
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a family-friendly musical comedy based on the best-selling book series by Bernard Waber, which melds live action and cutesy digital effects à la Paddington to extend the concept of a modern family to all creatures great, small and scaly.
Wholesome messages of love and acceptance are underlined with an upbeat soundtrack. Directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon maintain a breezy tone including a rooftop serenade reminiscent of The Greatest Showman’s barn-storming A Million Dreams with New York’s theatre district as a twinkling backdrop.
Bardem turns on the razzle dazzle as a charismatic magician with a hat full of debts while Gelman visibly savours his pantomime antagonist, gleefully stroking his sour-faced pet pussy like a Bond villain.
The eponymous semi-aquatic hero gels convincingly with teenage co-star Fegley and they are formidable when scriptwriter William Davies switches gears from slapstick to heartstring-tugging emotion for a courtroom showdown with only one outcome. Rating: ***