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Lyle, Lyle Crocodile: The Musical - The House on East 88th Street (1987)

The Primm family moves into an old brownstone house on East 88th Street, where they find a crocodile named Lyle in their bathtub.

Director:

Michael Sporn

Writers:

Bernard Waber (book), Maxine Fisher (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Tony Randall ... Narrator / Signor Valenti (voice)
Liz Callaway ... Mrs. Primm (singing voice)
Devon Michaels ... Joshua (voice)
Charles Strouse Charles Strouse ... Mr. Primm / Mover #1 (voice)
Heidi Stallings Heidi Stallings ... Mrs. Primm (voice)
Arnold Stang ... Bird (voice)
Rick Parks Rick Parks ... Mover #2 (voice)
Lanie Zera Lanie Zera ... Houseguest (voice)
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Storyline

The Primm family moves into an old brownstone house on East 88th Street, where they find a crocodile named Lyle in their bathtub.

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 November 1987 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Goofs

During the song telling how Lyle was integrated into the community, Mrs. Primm refers to him as an amphibian even though he is a reptile. See more »

Soundtracks

Crocodile Song
Written by Charles Strouse
Performed by Liz Callaway and Lanie Zera
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User Reviews

 
A Film From my Childhood that Still Holds Up
11 March 2018 | by elicoppermanSee all my reviews

Before I begin this review, I want to give my condolences to the late Michael Sporn, an animator who helped shape animated adaptations of children books for many years, and as someone who trained under master animator Richard Williams' belt, he forever has my blessing.

Anyway, based off the book of the same name by Bernard Waber, this special premiered on HBO in 1987, and despite becoming rather obscure, it remains imbedded in my childhood memories, for we used to own this on home video before giving it away. So fast forward to 30 years after its premiere and years since we gave it away, does it still hold up?

The basic story is that after moving into a new house in New York on 88th street, the Primms discover a very friendly and entertaining crocodile named Lyle, who becomes a sensation around the town. However, once Lyle's former performing partner and caretaker Mr. Valenti takes him back, Lyle soon becomes depressed and unhappy, so Valenti decides to bring him back to 88th street in acknowledging where Lyle truly belongs.

While the story is simple enough, the special itself is quite charming, humorous, and heartwarming. Lyle is an absolute delight and the animators pull off some impressive performances from the character, making it easy to see why everyone around him adores him so much. The rest of the characters like the Primms and Valenti all love Lyle dearly, but where one cherishes Lyle's talent more than his feelings, the Primms, especially the son Joshua, help Lyle look on the bright side of life when times get down and it's particularly heartbreaking when Lyle has to leave them, aided by a fantastic musical number Don't Leave Me Now, which shows just how distraught Joshua is when he has to let his friend go.

Speaking of the songs, they are very amusing in their own right, and they help serve the plot without coming off as too padded or unneeded. Movin' into a New House details the struggles of having to move into a new place comedically, the Crocodile Song showcases the many great deeds and activities Lyle does throughout his stay on 88th street, and Look on the Bright Side (not to be confused with the Monty Python classic) is so upbeat and uplifting that I'll bet even the most pessimistic naysayer will feel motivated enough to think positively on life. While I already talked about Don't Leave Me Now, it truly is a heart wrenching song to listen to, and the singing performance by Devon Mitchells and the emotional visuals really do sum up just how sad both Joshua and Lyle become, further proving just how enticing each musical number is.

The animation feels like a children's book that happens to be animated. Although clearly made for television as the movements are pretty limited and often choppy, it actually fits with the simplistic nature and tone of the special. But even with the limitations, the animators still put in enough physical energy and emotion in each character to make them feel alive and energetic, especially the pantomime Lyle.

Often when we revisit something from our childhoods, it can be a mixed bag. The stuff you rewatch can either still hold up and offer you more qualities than you ever thought of, or it could only offer nostalgia and just come off as dated and pandering than anything else....this is part of the former. Although short and simple, Lyle Lyle Crocodile: The Musical - The House on East 88th Street offers enough humor, pathos, charm and heart to make it an uplifting and inspiring special that could make anyone look on the bright side. My recommendation, seek this one out, whether on old VHS tapes or online and gain some optimism and amusement that you once had as a child long ago.


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