Movie Review

Paulie (1998)

MPAA Rating: PG

Details Rated: PG; Genres: Comedy, Sci-fi and Fantasy; With: Buddy Hackett, Cheech Marin and Jay Mohr

The title character is a parrot that speaks in the voluble '40s-New York street-brat style of Leo Gorcey. In flashback, he relates the tale of how he befriended a stuttering little girl named Marie and was then separated from her. The creators of this surprisingly low-tech children's fable (Jay Mohr's voice is dubbed over shots of an actual talking parrot and some unobtrusive puppets) have appropriated the wistful, long-voyage-back-to-my-first-friend structure of Lassie Come Home and Stuart Little, but in tone the picture is closer to a birdbrained version of Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp. Paulie hooks up with such characters as a kindly-eccentric trailer-home widow (Gena Rowlands) and a taco vendor (Cheech Marin), who, in the one halfway infectious sequence, leads a chorus line of birds in a mariachi production number. But the rambling, episodic structure keeps the movie from achieving any true comic or sentimental vitality. After Babe, with its rowdy barnyard of chattering beasties, Paulie's lone wise-guy parrot seems a hero in search of a menagerie. C+

Originally posted Apr 24, 1998 Published in issue #428 Apr 24, 1998 Order article reprints

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