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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Roberts|
|Produced by||Mark Gordon
Allyson Lyon Segan
|Written by||Laurie Craig|
|Narrated by||Jay Mohr|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Editing by||Bruce Cannon|
|Studio||Mutual Film Company|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures|
|Running time||91 minutes|
Paulie is a 1998 American family film about a talking parrot named "Paulie". It was directed by John Roberts and written by Laurie Craig, and it was produced by Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn, and Allyson Lyon Segan for Mutual Film Company and DreamWorks. The movie stars Jay Mohr as Paulie's voice and Tony Shalhoub as a janitor (caretaker) who finds him imprisoned in a biological research laboratory, along with Gena Rowlands, Cheech Marin, Bruce Davison, and Trini Alvarado. It also features Buddy Hackett in his final film role, and Mohr also plays a minor on-screen character.
The film was released on VHS in 1998 by DreamWorks Home Entertainment.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (March 2012)|
In 1978 Mikeal (Misha) Andreovich Vilyenkov (Tony Shalhoub) is a Russian immigrant, who was a former literature teacher in Russia, and he is living in America and working as a janitor (caretaker) at an animal-testing lab in California. One day, he cleans up the cages and he encounters Paulie (Jay Mohr), a blue-crowned conure who astonishingly speaks to him in perfect English. But Paulie doesn't talk when Misha brings witnesses.
Misha persuades Paulie to tell him his life story with pieces of mango. Paulie tells him about his real owner, a little girl named Marie Alweather (Hallie Kate Eisenberg), and how he was given to her by her grandfather. Marie has a speech problem for she stutters, but is delighted when playing with Paulie. Marie's father, Warren (Matt Craven), is a soldier and away from home, while her mother, Lila (Laura Harrington), is at home, and she is an only child. Eventually, Warren does return home to New Jersey. He is happy to see Marie for the first time in a long time, but is startled to see her stutter. When Warren and Lila send her to speech therapy, Marie successfully overcomes her stutter because of Paulie, who learns speech during the therapy. However, Paulie only speaks around Marie. As the months pass, Marie makes no friends and Warren grows concerned about this. He is also concerned that Marie may be spending too much time with Paulie, and not socializing with other children her age. That night, Marie takes Paulie to her house's roof and attempts to teach him to fly in case they separate. Unfortunately, she trips and falls off the roof, injuring herself. After this traumatic event, Warren sends Paulie away from home.
Paulie is passed from one owner to another, eventually ending up in a pawn shop back in New Jersey, where he spends his time insulting the customers—including one named Benny (Jay Mohr as well)—and the pawnbroker, Artie (Buddy Hackett), until he is purchased by a widowed artist named Ivy (Gena Rowlands). She befriends him, teaches him manners and agrees to take him to find Marie, who has moved across the country to Los Angeles. Their mission comes to a premature end as Ivy loses her eyesight. Paulie remains as Ivy's eyes until she eventually passes away. Afterward he finally learns to fly and continues his journey alone, journeying first to the Grand Canyon to watch the sunrise as Ivy had always wished to see.
In East Los Angeles, Paulie joins a group of performing conures owned by Ignacio (Cheech Marin), but he's kidnapped by Benny, who recognized Paulie from the pawn shop, and begins a life of crime. In a botched jewel theft, Paulie flies down through a chimney of a house but becomes trapped inside and left behind by Benny.
Paulie is then brought to the institute, his current home, where employees and scientists, led by Dr. Reingold (Bruce Davison), are stunned by his intelligence. They put Paulie through tests and promise that he will be reunited with Marie. When Paulie discovers that the institute has lied to him, he refuses to cooperate with any more tests. Paulie's wings are clipped so he cannot fly anymore, and he is imprisoned in the basement, forgotten.
Moved by Paulie's story, Misha decides to give up his menial job to release Paulie and take him to Marie. Misha brings cutters and manages to get Paulie out of his cage. He also sneaks in the Dr. Reingold's office and finds Marie's address, and Reingold encounters him, but Misha quits, and also releases all the animals in the Institute and sneaks out with Paulie. After escaping from the Institute, they find Marie, who is now a fully grown, beautiful young woman (Trini Alvarado), but who is unrecognizable to Paulie. After a moment of confusion, they are then reunited; Paulie also finds he can fly again as his feathers have regrown. Marie invites Misha into her house but Misha says he should go and that she and Paulie must have lots to talk about. Paulie then joins in, saying that he should stay, but Misha still tries to go. Paulie then points out that Marie had "flowers in her hair" and probably had "books on the table", a reference to what Misha said would be his dream girl earlier in the film, Marie says that she would like it a lot if Misha could come inside, and Misha admits that he would also like to come inside. The three go inside and the credits begin to roll.
- Gena Rowlands as Ivy, a widowed artist
- Tony Shalhoub as Misha, a recent US immigrant from East Europe
- Hallie Kate Eisenberg as Marie, a young girl with a stutter
- Cheech Marin as Ignacio, an entertainer
- Bruce Davison as Dr. Reingold, a biological research scientist
- Trini Alvarado as Adult Marie
- Jay Mohr as the voice of Paulie and Benny.
- Buddy Hackett as Artie, owner of a pawn shop
- Matt Craven as Warren
- Bill Cobbs as Virgil
- Tia Texada as Ruby, and the voice of Lupe
- Laura Harrington as Lila
- Jerry Winsett as Mr. Tauper
The movie's production budget was 23 million US dollars. Buddy Hackett auditioned to do the voice of Paulie, but he lost to Jay Mohr, who did an impression of Hackett. This was Hackett's last theatrical appearance. John Roberts, who (prior to Paulie) directed War of the Buttons, served as the director.
Paulie was well received. The movie has scored a 62% or 6.2/10 rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
It was distributed in 24 countries and 10 different languages between 1998 and 1999.
Awards and nominations
|ALMA Award||Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film - Cheech Marin||Nomination|
|ALMA Award||Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film - Trini Alvarado||Nomination|
|BAFTA Children's Award||Best Children's Feature Film||Won|
|Bronze Gryphon||Early Screens - John Roberts||Won|
|Young Artist Award||Best family feature - Comedy||Nomination|
|Young Artist Award||Best performance in a feature film - Young Actress aged ten or under - Hallie Kate Eisenberg||Nomination|
|Young Artist Award||Best performance by a young actress in a comedy film - Hallie Kate Eisenberg||Nomination|