There are few things in this world that are surprising. Especially when it comes to cinema. A lot of horror films have pretty predictable endings. Marvel movies are going to the filled to the brim with “surprising” cameos. Fast and Furious is going to have some epic car chases.

But occasionally a film comes along to surprise you – and for me, it was Lyle Lyle Crocodile.

Based on a popular children’s book, Lyle Lyle Crocodile revolves around the talented scaly creature who is found by an ageing, desperate showman Hector P. Valenti. After training Lyle to sing and dance, Hector is dismayed to learn that Lyle also has crippling stage freight. When Hector has to go on the road to earn money, he abandons Lyle in his attic apartment. Soon a young family move in, and young son Josh discovers Lyle and strikes up a blossoming, musical friendship.

Lyle Lyle Crocodile is, at times, nonsensical, and it can be very strange. The story doesn’t necessarily feel cohesive, but it is enjoyable, nonetheless.

It helps that there are two actors that Winslow Fegley and Javier Bardem are committed to the film. The minute Javier Bardem appears on screen, you are sold. Sure, you’ll never go back to being scared by him in No Country for Old Man, but who needs his Academy Award winning performance when you have him tap-dancing with a literal  crocodile? Bardem, as always, commits completely to the bit and it’s wildly entertaining.

Young Fegley is the actor who really sells the film. He has a great earnestness which develops over the film, from a frightful young boy to someone who is more confident thanks to the crocodile. After this and Night Books, he is becoming a rising talented young performer.

That being said, there are some sketchy performances here. Constance Wu and Scoot McNairy struggle to blend in well with the mayhem involved. Sure, their roles as concerned parents offer some foil to the haphazard nature of Lyle, but they fail to all blend into the whack chemistry of the piece. They are so wooden – you can see the eyes of Wu glaze over as she retraces the steps in her life that led her to this moment –  that it makes the crazier moments feel confused. There is a wrestling one-piece scene between Lyle and McNairy that just feels obtuse.

For anyone inquiring on how Shawn Mendes is, I can assure you that he doesn’t have to break a sweat in his first “acting” role. The titular crocodile is actually mute until he sings. Ignoring the improbability of it all, (because he is not like singing all the time, just some title catchy numbers,) it does mean we don’t have to suffer through strained voice acting and we get to enjoy Lyle for what he is. Cute and entertaining.

Props have to go to the design of Lyle. He doesn’t look necessarily like a crocodile, yet he does. There’s a great attention to detail to his sound design and his leathery skin that makes the cartoon-like being feel extremely tangible.

Then there are music songs that are really catchy. Ok so it can feel a bit play-by-numbers thanks to writing team Pasek and Paul who are probably reaping some costs thanks to the failure of the Dear Evan Hansen movie. But the numbers will be stuck in your head long after viewing such as Take A Look At Us Now and On Top of the World. Ordinary but absolute ear worms.

It may sound like I am being critical about this film but despite all its flaws, it somehow works completely.

Lyle Lyle Crocodile is a snappy family feature. Ok, so some parents are going to roll their eyes somewhat, with a big wish to say, “see you later,” (alligator) but there is a lot of fun to be had here. If anything, you can certainly melt away into a crazy, heart-warming movie on a great, green scale.

And with such toe-tapping tunes from Pasek and Paul, one could say it is this year’s La La Land. Or…Lyle Lyle Land…if you will.