On Wednesday morning, something strange and incredible happened: I was actually brought to tears by a two-minute trailer for a movie in which Shawn Mendes plays a singing crocodile. Now, that may say more about me than the movie itself, but the film in question, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, looks adorable and genuinely moving. See for yourself if you can get through the trailer without shedding a tear or two—it’s harder than it seems!
Based on the beloved children’s book of the same name by Bernard Waber, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile stars Mendes as the titular reptile, an unlikely resident of an Upper East Side townhouse with a penchant for knitwear and singing in the bathtub. When the Primm family moves into the house, they’re stunned to discover that Lyle lives in their attic.
Javier Bardem plays the eccentric Mr. Valenti, Lyle’s owner-slash-singing-partner. “I see you’ve met my crocodile,” Bardem greets the Primms in the trailer, tipping his bowler hat. “He’s an extraordinary talent.” The young son, Josh (Winslow Fegley), is immediately psyched to have a singing crocodile for a roommate, as any elementary school boy would be. But his parents, played by Constance Wu and Scoot McNairy, need some convincing.
“Okay, yes, crocodiles can bite through bone and, yes, they have a taste for human flesh, but he’s not like that,” Josh pleads with his mother in the trailer. “He wears a scarf and he can sing!” Flawless logic, 10/10. A crocodile who wears a scarf and belts showtunes would obviously never hurt someone. I, for one, am convinced.
Indeed, Lyle is a sophisticated city crocodile. He rides in yellow cabs and visits MoMA to check out the Monet Water Lilies triptych. Still, his neighbors want him evicted—none more so than the aptly named Mr. Grumps (Brett Gelman, who will surely be spectacular in this role). Lyle, Lyle Crocodile is ultimately a kids’ movie about tenants’ rights.
As cute as the trailer is, it’s, erm, unnerving to hear Mendes’ whiny, boy band-adjacent singing voice coming out of the mouth of an animated crocodile in a sweater. The producers clearly wanted someone kids would care about, and I respect the ballsiness of casting a young, skinny-jeans-obsessed popstar instead of, say, Elton John or Paul McCartney, whose voices would surely make more sense for the role.
But the 23-year-old Canadian is already killing the publicity game, hilariously telling People this week that he really relates to Lyle’s story, apparently without even a whiff of irony. If someone can explain to me how Shawn Mendes could possibly have anything in common with a tragically misunderstood singing crocodile, I would greatly appreciate it.
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile is directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon, the filmmaking duo behind comedies like Blades of Glory and Office Christmas Party. It features original songs written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, whose impressive previous credits include The Greatest Showman and Tony-Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen.
As the delightful trailer indicates, the musical comedy will be “coming in a while, crocodile” (adorable!). It hits theaters on October 7.
Source: The Daily Beast.