Halloween is a time when many adults dress up in costumes and celebrate the season with scary movies. There are lots of horror films at the theaters right now. It may take some hunting but there are some big screen movies for families too. Some folks might forget that lots of children were only recently vaccinated and/or boosted. Many of those kids haven’t been in a movie theater since 2019 and for some, this will be their first time. Think of the excitement for those little ones: first popcorn, first big screen experience, and an outing for the whole family.
While you might still find the Minions movie, “Rise of Gru”, “DC League of Super Pets” or maybe a classic Halloween film, there’s also the new live-action/computer-animated musical “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” in wide-spread release. Directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon (screenplay by William Davies), the film is an adaptation of the beloved children’s book of the same name (author Bernard Waber). There have been other adaptions of the book. This one features some big names in the cast.
The central character is a nebbish young man played convincingly by Winslow Fegley. Afraid of all the changes moving to New York City will bring, he finds a singing crocodile secretly living in the attic. Constance Wu has some wonderful scenes as the cookbook-author Mom who’s worried she’s missing out on her son’s life. It’s Spanish star, Javier Bardem who steals the show as the faded vaudeville magician, Hector P. Valenti. He seems to be having a ball in the movie and his scenes with Lyle, the Crocodile, have sparkle and panache.
How to decide if this film is a good fit for your family? It’s great for kids who’ve read the book. Also fun for fans of musicals or with music appreciation. Shawn Mendes voices the crocodile; he has a lovely voice. There’s a lot of song and dance and older music is featured; think Motown and Elton John. The crocodile is beautifully animated and very realistic. There’s also an animated cat that’s clearly fake, but also hilarious.
“Lyle” has a run time of an hour and 46 minutes. The youngest in the crowd might get a bit wiggly toward the end. It takes practice to sit for the length of a movie. Many kids now watch movies on their own iPad. They’re used to being able to pause the film…or play while it’s rolling. The bright colors and realistic-looking crocodile should hold their attention. “Lyle” has a little something for everyone: song & dance, top-notch animation, lots of silliness, mild mayhem, and a wholesome family depiction.
The film is rated PG and IMDB gives it a 6.7 out of 10 rating. As a great resource for families, I recommend Common Sense Media for all forms of media. On that site, “Lyle” is rated for kid’s ages 6 and up. And Parent evaluators and Kids raters rank it as appropriate for ages 5 and up. The review calls it a “Cute Croc musical with slapstick and a little peril”.
Another option for families is to start a Halloween tradition. Share your favorite film of the season. Mine is “A Nightmare Before Christmas”. This Henry Sellick stop-motion animation is full of catchy songs, has a unique story and a fun premise. The film tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, as he attempts to take over Christmas and make it spooky. It’s a little scary for the wee ones as there’s an Oogie Boogie Man and Santa Claus does get kidnapped (literally, as he’s taken by kids). It’s aimed at older kids and teens. There’s a romance and a little politics thrown in. The animation is astonishing when you realize someone had to move each tiny character over and over to create the motion.
There are many fans of the original “Hocus Pocus” movie. I re-watched it recently and had forgotten how stilted the child stars are at the beginning of the film. The story is corny and out of date. The “special effects” are laughable. You can check out the new “Hocus Pocus” movie on Disney+ aptly named, “Hocus Pocus 2”. The Sanderson Sisters: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy still bring the charm and there are some funny scenes. The story has been updated and there are some big-name stars (Tony Hale is the mayor) to satisfy an older audience. “Hocus Pocus 2” is still squarely aimed at the kiddos.
The seasons pass so quickly, and family time is hard to come by. Carve out some time with your family or friends and watch a movie together. Grab a copy of the Lyle, Lyle, the Crocodile book and then compare it to the movie at the theater. Discuss which is the better version and why with the kids. See a classic Halloween film that you loved growing up or check out a new addition of an older film. Together time is precious.
Drinks with Films ratings
“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”—two saucers of champagne (out of 5)
“Nightmare Before Christmas”—4 blood-red cocktails served in Halloween goblets (out of 5)
“Hocus Pocus 2”—2 glasses of wine, red wine of course (out of 5)