Posted: September 7, 2022
LYLE, LYLE & CROCODILE Directors Discuss The Musical’s “Unconditional” Message Of Love
By Cooper Dowd, Editor
As movie chains await the next box office hit, director duo Josh Gordon and Will Peck are thrilled to announce their new adventure, LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE, a musical adaptation of Bernard Waber’s classic children’s book. from 1965.
The film follows a boy named Josh who moves to New York and meets a crocodile named Lyle. However, the only way Lyle can communicate with Josh and the rest of Josh’s family is through song.
Upcoming musical stars Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem, Constance Wu, Brett Gelman, Winslow Fegley and Grammy-winning singer Shawn Mendes as Lyle.
The film features music from composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, known for THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, and an original song by Mendes.
Produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the directors discussed their inspiration for the live-action/CGI adaptation of the iconic book.
“It’s funny because the book was written in the 60s and there was a bit like a period of children’s literature that was in a kind of rejigging of what children’s literature was at the time: ‘ Corduroy’ and ‘Charlotte’s Web’…Even like ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ there’s kind of an undercurrent of something other than what appears on the surface,” Speck told Movieguide® during a recent visit to the Sony studio in Culver City, CA.
Speck recalled that the family inspired Waber’s original character, Lyle the Crocodile, in the ’60s, and that he and Gordon tried to honor those roots nearly 60 years later.
“What we loved about the book is that the original author worked in advertising and really missed his family every day, and he would sit at his desk and doodle,” Speck explained. “He would imagine he was a surrogate in the form of this crocodile spending time with his family because he couldn’t.
“There’s something we took away about longing and loneliness, but also, like the idea that in your absence, something might come in and bring unexpected joy to your family,” he said. he declares. “It’s always stuck with us because of that kind of melancholy undercurrent, but also the idea that you can infer change on an inanimate object or a character that doesn’t speak, or an unlikely delivery system to bring about change.”
“I also think that for us, history, like it or not, is really about acceptance,” Gordon added. “It’s about the fear of the other and it’s about finding your voice, two themes that seemed important to broadcast in the world. We have kids now and we kind of wanted to reintroduce a new generation to these themes.
Much like children’s books from the 60s, Speck and Gordon revealed that while LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE is a movie about a singing crocodile, it also has a heartfelt message about how unconditional love helps overcome fear and the loss.
“We didn’t want to avoid the real issues, because I think everyone faces them, especially kids today,” Speck said. “I think we didn’t want to be too heavy-handed about it either.”
“These ’60s children’s books weren’t afraid of adult themes, but presented the world as it is so a child could understand, that’s important to us,” Gordon added.
“I think Josh as a kid is a little anxious and struggling to find his way around this new town, this environment, and Lyle is helping him do that,” Speck continued. “We tried to get deeper roots in these issues, but without being too hard on it. To keep the child and family delivery system light on its feet. Because I think that’s kind of the best kind of story, where you feel there’s something bigger at play, but you don’t lean into it to drag the audience aside.
“If you can surround people with a generosity of spirit that doesn’t need something, but is just given as a pure one-way gesture of love, you can give your best, so that’s what we tried to get across,” Speck continued. “Lyle, the character, is a great way to understand that your best version of yourself is when you’re supported unconditionally.”
LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE premieres only in theaters October 7th. Movieguide® has not yet reviewed the film and cannot advise on its content. Check back soon for a full review!
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