In one of the most anticipated animated musical releases on Netflix, Arlo the Alligator Boy delights audiences with a hodgepodge of larger-than-life characters and dance-worthy music. At its core, this is a story about identity and self-worth, with the message that family comes in all shapes and sizes — and it’s the crew and cast of Arlo the Alligator Boy who really bring everything to life.
A wide-eyed optimist who is half-human, half-alligator, and all joy, Arlo leaves his swamp to search for his long-lost father in New York City. Along the way, he acquires a colorful, mismatched group of misfits who become his new family.
Voiced by Michael J. Woodard, Arlo spends his journey trying to figure out where he belongs, and therein lies the beauty of this lovable reptilian hybrid.
“At its core, Arlo the Alligator Boy is a story about finding beauty in our differences and strength in our friendships,” said director and executive producer Ryan Crego.
Arlo’s search for family and belonging is entirely relatable, particularly in today’s climate. “I set out to create the most joyful, positive character that I could dream up,” Crego said. “I was curious to see what would happen when a character so positive and pure of heart went out into a world that was gritty, calloused, and real. Would he bend, would he break, or would he be able to change the world around him?”
To that end, Crego tells Parentology that he was deliberate in his casting choices.
“I was looking for some kind of authenticity,” he says. “It came down to finding the people who could really portray them authentically and bring something to the table that would feel not just like they’re putting on a character, but that they are that character.”
Different Is Beautiful
Crego’s witty, sensitive script acknowledges the quirkiness of this outcast crew of misfits without ever “punching down”. Outlandish, outrageous, and hilarious, these are definitely actualized characters, not caricatures.
Mary Lambert, who voices fan-favorite character Bertie (pictured above with Arlo), tells Parentology that giving her character an authentic voice was immensely gratifying and healing.
“I learned from a really young age there wasn’t really a place for me. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 15, I’ve been fat my whole life, and came out when I was 17,” Lambert explains. “And it’s difficult when you don’t see yourself represented, or you see yourself misrepresented. You don’t know what possibilities lie ahead. And I think that is what’s so beautiful about this project — the sheer imagination of what these characters are capable of, because it is limitless.”
A Musical with Heart
Featuring an original score composed by Alex Geringas, the film is filled with catchy, heartfelt dance music that would be equally at home on a Spotify playlist. (Indeed, the soundtrack is being released on streaming along with the movie itself on April 16.) The score showcases Woodard’s meaty vocals, which are part The Weeknd, part Bruno Mars, and all passion.
“Through his songs we also get our strongest themes,” said Crego. “Songs about wanting to be more, to fulfill your destiny, to accept yourself, to understand pain and loss… and eventually to realize that we are in this thing together and no one does it alone.”
Woodard’s own contagious optimism comes through Arlo in nearly every scene — not an easy feat for someone’s acting debut.
“I think my mission, why I was put on this earth, is to bring joy to people and give hope in some way,” Woodard tells Parentology. “So the fact that I get to do that, and be a part of that hope, and be a part of that joy and uplifting content for everybody is something that I’m completely grateful for — and something I couldn’t have imagined happening for my first movie project!”
Ultimately, Arlo and company learn that family is not necessarily the one you’re born into. This film is a beautiful homage to anyone who has ever felt like they don’t fit in. As Arlo sings in the movie’s last number, “We all belong, we’re beautiful together.”
Right now, the world could use a little more optimism. We could all use a little Arlo.
Arlo the Alligator Boy premieres on Netflix on April 16, and will be followed by the series, I ❤️ Arlo, which takes place after the events of the film.
WATCH: “Arlo the Alligator Boy” — Exclusive Preview Clip on Parentology
Arlo the Alligator Boy cast includes Michael J. Woodard (Arlo) Bertie (Mary Lambert), Edmee (Annie Potts), Teeny Tiny Tony (Tony Hale), Marcellus (Brett Gelman), Furlecia (Jonathan Van Ness), Alia (Haley Tju) and Ansel Beauregard (Vincent Rodriguez III). The cast rounds out with villains Stucky (Jennifer Coolidge) and Ruff (Michael “Flea” Balzary).