Josh Primm has just moved to New York City with his parents. He’s shy, anxious, and slow to adjust to his new school. Then he makes a friend. A crocodile. Lyle is no ordinary crocodile. For one thing, he sings. Josh’s parents are terrified of him at first, but Lyle soon becomes part of the family. When Mr. Grumps, their menacing neighbor, threatens to have Lyle taken away, the Primms pull together to protect the creature.
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a musical comedy based on the popular children’s books by Bernard Waber. Josh is played by Winslow Fegley, 13. He says he came to empathize with the shy boy he portrays.
“Josh has to go through this journey, to break out of his shell,” Winslow told TIME for Kids. And it’s Lyle, understanding the boy’s loneliness, who helps him do this. “By the end of the movie, Josh is very open to trying new things,” Winslow says. “I can relate to that.”
The Lyle we see in the movie is computer-animated. He’s voiced by singer Shawn Mendes. But Winslow says it was a “man in a suit,” actor Ben Palacios, who brought Lyle to life on the set. This made it easier for Winslow to get into character. “It was a great experience because I could work with a real person,” Winslow says. “I was able to react to his emotions.”
Winslow has the same admiration for everyone involved in making the movie. “All of the people who worked on the special effects have done an amazing job,” he says. “It’s not just making Lyle look realistic, but making him a lovable character. It’s really easy to fall in love with him.” The film also stars Constance Wu as Josh’s mom and Javier Bardem as Hector P. Valenti, Lyle’s owner. “With all these very talented people,” Winslow says, “we made an amazing film that’s great, hopefully, for all ages.”
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile opens in theaters on October 7.