Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is now in theaters, and viewers can finally get a chance to see Shawn Mendes voicing the singing reptile. The film is a delightful take on a familiar formula of a child befriending a talking animal, a theme that has been the staple of cult favorites such as Stuart Little, My Neighbor Totoro, and Paddington.
The fact that a generally-feared creature like a crocodile is turned into a singing sweetheart shows how animated movies can subvert stereotypically “evil” animals. This narrative element is also present in this year’s The Bad Guys. Lyle’s singing skills also make him unique from the rest of his species with the protagonist being comparable to more such unconventional animals in films like Happy Feet and Sing.
10/10 Sing (2016)
Stream On FuboTV
In an attempt to save his failing theater, an ambitious koala gathers a band of animals from different backgrounds as they audition for a singing show. Doubling as a coming-of-age story for its gorilla protagonist Johnny and a satire on competitive reality television, Sing makes for a delightful family-friendly watch with enough pop-song covers to impress fans of animated musicals.
Taron Egerton’s Johnny is an outcast as he wishes to pursue a musical career instead of the bank heist jobs that his family pulls off. But in his journey, he eventually makes new friends and finds his calling much like Lyle’s changed life as a singing crocodile and friend to a human family.
9/10 Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made (2020)
Stream On Disney+
Inspired by the children’s books of the same name, Timmy Failure deals with a socially-awkward 11-year-old who is a masterful detective in his imaginary world. His out-of-the-box thoughts drive him to befriend a polar bear, go against his teachers, and solve a government conspiracy. All in all, the movie is a tribute to the power of imagination at an age when the world’s realities are still not explored.
Playing the titular character in the Disney+ original, Winslow Fegley shines as a similar character in Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. Here too, he is a pre-teen who struggles to fit in with his close friend being a crocodile instead of a polar bear this time.
8/10 Happy Feet (2006)
Stream On HBO Max
Mumble is not your ordinary penguin. He is a penguin who can tap dance! This unique trait however draws much judgment from his clan which refuses to accept him. In his exile, Mumble and his happy feet must prove their worth among a species that values singing more than dancing.
Happy Feet provides some uniquely amusing thoughts in the pantheon of “talking animals” animated movies. Just like how Lyle’s singing skills set him apart for both good and bad reasons, Mumble too has his conflicting moments with his dancing skills.
7/10 My Neighbor Totoro (1990)
Stream On HBO Max
One of the most beloved gems in the pantheon of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli movies, My Neighbor Totoro shines not just because of its visual richness but also for the simplicity and joys of childhood that its narrative strongly propagates.
As the two young protagonists move to the rural countryside, they befriend a creature called Totoro who doesn’t really serve much purpose other than just merrily leading his everyday life. In fact, unlike Lyle, Totoro hardly ever speaks throughout the entire movie. But just the slow-burning beauty of his pure friendship with humans is instantly bound to lift one’s mood.
6/10 Paddington (2015)
Stream On Netflix
The Peruvian bear Paddington becomes an illegal alien when he sets foot in London. Drawing the ire of evil poachers and struggling with the culture shock in Britain, help comes in the form of a loving family who adopts him as one of their own.
A warm and wholesome watch for all audiences, Paddington would make for a perfect companion watch to Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. Virtually, even the plots are pretty similar as Lyle also befriends the Primm family while avoiding the threats of an evil neighbor.
5/10 The Bad Guys (2022)
Stream On Peacock Premium
With a talented voice cast led by Sam Rockwell as the Big Bad Wolf, The Bad Guys is set in a world where animals are judged on the basis of stereotypes and their looks. So, naturally, Wolf’s friends like Shark, Snake, Piranha, and Tarantula are viewed as menaces to society eventually driving them to become criminals.
But as they embark on one heist after the other, the characters of The Bad Guys realize that they too can have a shot at being good. Similarly, Lyle is also viewed as a threat by some in Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. It is only with his singing and kind nature that he is able to subvert negative notions about his species.
4/10 Stuart Little (1999)
Stream On VUDU
An orphaned white mouse gets adopted by the aptly-titled “Little” family. While learning lessons of love and friendship in his new home, he must also face the envy of their pet cat who for obvious reasons, wants to drive him away.
A friendship between natural enemies like a cat and a mouse seems Utopian, and so is a singing crocodile. Movies like Stuart Little and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile use animal protagonists in the most unlikely situations but succeed at promoting universal values of love and kindness to the intended target audience.
3/10 Peter Rabbit (2018)
Stream On Redbox
When a farmer’s nephew inherits the countryside land, he looks at the farm’s rabbits as unwanted pests and hatches plans to drive them away. However, under the rebellious command of Peter Rabbit, the furry creatures give the human a taste of his own medicine.
Peter Rabbit offers interesting contrasts to movies like Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. While it is highly unlikely to find a singing crocodile in an attic in real life, rabbits like Peter are quite common in English farms. Even though Lyle in a typical “animal family comedy” manner strikes up an instant friendship with the humans, Peter and his buck-toothed peers enter a truce only after wreaking havoc. Despite the differences, both movies ultimately celebrate the coming together of humans and animals, something that is much-needed in today’s times.
2/10 Arlo The Alligator Boy (2021)
Stream On Netflix
Arlo is a young alligator humanoid, a simple-minded soul who visits the city to find his estranged father. Netflix’s animated adventure Arlo the Alligator Boy covers this journey as he encounters all sorts of lively creatures.
There aren’t enough alligator and crocodile-centric movies in Hollywood. And the most famous ones usually show the monstrous side of the creatures such as the Lake Placid franchise. In this sense, movies like Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, and Arlo the Alligator Boy are interesting watches for kids to see such reptiles in a new light. Both movies also share a common actor as Brett Gellman voices Marcellus, a fish creature with legs.
1/10 The Boss Baby (2017)
Stream On AMC On Demand
The titular Boss Baby might look like just a toddler in a suit on the surface, but he actually works for a baby Secret Service that aims to bring balance in the war for humans’ love for babies and pets. With an outrageous concept, The Boss Baby offers a spin on the usual family comedy formula.
While most such “new members” to a family (be it Lyle, Paddington, or Stuart Little) are often very wholesome and kind-hearted, the Boss Baby AKA Ted Templeton Jr. is no angel as he is very well-versed in the ways of the world. Even when he’s off-duty, he throws enough tantrums to cause chaos in the family.