A tiger, a miniature Italian man, a girl with gigantism, a fish with legs, a pink hairball and a redheaded half-reptile walk into Manhattan. That’s the setup of “Arlo the Alligator Boy,” a hyperactive cartoon musical intended for kids on Netflix. The punchline is that the streaming service has already greenlighted a spinoff about this chipper green tyke for a 20-episode series.
Our saga begins when baby Arlo’s bassinet drifts from the sewers of Bellevue Hospital to the swamps of Louisiana, where he’s raised by a banjo-playing recluse woman (voiced by Annie Potts) and a farting frog. When a similar trauma happened to the Penguin in “Batman Returns,” he resolved to murder every firstborn son in Gotham. The relentlessly happy Arlo would rather buy everyone an ice cream. He sings his way home in a series of childishly catchy ballads, repetitive both in theme (it’s OK to be weird!) and lyrics (characters want “more, more, more” and pledge to “follow, follow, follow”).
Arlo is voiced by the former “American Idol” contestant Michael J. Woodard with a soulfulness that shimmies into a plucky falsetto. He’s joined by a quirky cast that includes Jennifer Coolidge and the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, as tourist-trap operators hellbent on kidnapping Arlo for their Gator X-Perience, and an uninhibited Tony Hale and Jonathan Van Ness as two of Arlo’s aforementioned buddies who can only be described as Hieronymus Bosch doodles for kids.
Long before the motley crew crashes the Met Gala, it’s clear that director Ryan Crego is bolting wacky gee-gaws onto a rote plot. Still, several gags pay off: wearable puppies; random lederhosen; rhyming references to the Jason Statham action movie “The Meg”; and, for the rare aficionado of both of kiddie cartoons about self-acceptance and the once X-rated classic “Midnight Cowboy,” a running bit where every New Yorker howls, “I’m walkin’ here!”
Arlo the Alligator Boy
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Watch on Netflix.
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