Monday, January 15, 2007

Movie Review: Paulie 3 Stars

In the tradition of Babe, Dreamworks has released a funny, engaging family film about a parrot who doesn’t merely mimic human speech, but has actually acquired the ability to talk--even if it is in a slightly annoying Jersey-ese.

Paulie is the story of the loquacious bird’s ten-year cross-country adventures as told by Paulie himself (Jay Mohr, voice). Paulie's first owner, 5-year-old Marie (played delightfully by Hallie Kate Eisenberg) suffers from a speech impediment that Paulie helps her overcome. An unfortunate accident unfairly exiles Paulie from the home. He winds up at a pawnshop run by Buddy Hackett, but soon thereafter, becomes the travelling companion of Ivy (Gena Rowlands), an oddball widow driving an RV en route to Los Angeles, (Marie’s new home.) Along the way, however, Ivy goes blind and Paulie is again stranded. (On a strange sour note, he unnecessarily alludes to the fact that Ivy died.)

At a roadside taco stand, Paulie is enlisted into a troupe of performing birds run by Cheech Marin. Paulie soon becomes the unwitting accomplice in a series of ATM scams with a petty crook (also played hilariously by Jay Mohr). His inadvertent crimes eventually land him in a research lab where he has been telling his woeful tale of hijinks to a sympathetic Russian immigrant janitor (Tony Shalhoub).

Paulie boasts an impressive, hilarious cast including a trained flock of 14 blue-crown conures and animatronic puppets.

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