Paulie is a 1998 American adventure fantasy comedy film about a disobedient talking parrot named Paulie, starring Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin, Gena Rowlands, Hallie Eisenberg, and Jay Mohr. Mohr performs both the voice of Paulie and the on-screen supporting role of Benny, a character who has a lot of dialogue with him. It received mixed to positive reviews and was a box office disappointment, grossing $26.9 million domestically against a $23 million budget. However in the years after its release, Paulie would find a larger audience on home media sales.

Paulie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Roberts
Written byLaurie Craig
Produced byMark Gordon
Gary Levinsohn
Allyson Lyon Segan
CinematographyTony Pierce-Roberts
Edited byBruce Cannon
Music byJohn Debney
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures
Release date
  • April 17, 1998 (1998-04-17)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$23 million
Box office$26.9 million[1]


The film is a picaresque tale about a blue-crowned conure who humans can understand named Paulie (voice of Jay Mohr), and his long quest to return to his owner.

Misha Vilyenkov (Tony Shalhoub), a Russian immigrant and former teacher of literature, lives in America and works as a janitor at an institute. He encounters Paulie there and is shocked to see him speaking as clearly as a human. Subsequently, he doesn't speak a word when Misha brings others to witness him.

Misha entices Paulie to tell him his story by offering him pieces of mango. He starts by telling about his original owner, a little girl named Marie (Hallie Eisenberg) who stutters. The story transitions to a flashback scene in which he is a baby. As Marie works on speech therapy, he begins to speak too, beginning with understanding the meaning of words and progressing to the construction of complex sentences. Marie's father, Warren (Matt Craven), a soldier, returns home from Vietnam and decides that Paulie is not helping her. His resentment of the close bond between them, and their shared progress in speech development, is evident.

It becomes obvious that Warren wants Marie to forget Paulie, when he brings her a cat. Paulie does not get along with it. Once again, Warren blames him for Marie's speaking problems and believes she has imagined his ability to speak to humans. Eventually after a dramatic event in which she falls off the roof in an attempt to teach him to fly, Warren convinces her mother, Lila (Laura Harrington), to send him away which devastates Marie.

Paulie is passed from one owner to another, eventually ending up in a pawn shop, where he spends his time insulting the customers. One day a shady customer named Benny (Jay Mohr) shows interest in purchasing him, thinking he could profit from his ability to talk to humans. Before he can act, however, a widowed artist named Ivy (Gena Rowlands) purchases him with the intent of reforming his rude personality. She befriends him and agrees to help him find Marie who has moved to Los Angeles. They begin traveling using her mobile home but when she loses her sight in the middle of their trip, he decides to stay and take care of her. After she dies, he, having finally learned to fly, continues his journey.

In East Los Angeles, Paulie joins a group of performing conures owned by migrant musician Ignacio (Cheech Marin), temporarily forgetting about Marie as he develops feelings for a female conure named Lupe. At one of his performances, Benny, having also moved to Los Angeles, recognizes him and attempts to purchase him from Ignacio. When Ignacio refuses his offer, Benny makes a phony police call at one of his performances. As the police show up, Benny kidnaps Paulie amidst all the chaos and Ignacio is arrested and presumably deported. Under Benny's influence, Paulie begins a life of crime. In a botched jewel theft, he flies down through the chimney of a house, where he is trapped inside, and then abandoned.

Paulie is then brought to the institute, his current home, where Dr. Reingold (Bruce Davison), the head of the institute, his employees and fellow scientists are stunned by his ability to speak to humans. They subject him to testing, and Reingold promises that he will be reunited with Marie when they are done. When he discovers that he has been lied to—that Marie has been found but the institute has instead decided to keep him as their property—he refuses to cooperate with any more tests, humiliating Reingold in front of his scientific peers by acting like an ordinary parrot and then insulting him. As a result, his wings are clipped, and he is eventually imprisoned in the basement when he starts biting the researchers.

Moved by Paulie's story, Misha decides to give up his menial job to release him and take him to Marie. After escaping from the institute, freeing the encaged animals, and taking a bus to her address, they find her, now a full grown, beautiful young woman (Trini Alvarado) unrecognizable to Paulie. After a moment of confusion, he and Marie are happily reunited as she sings his favorite song and he remembers her. The film ends with the trio happily entering her house.



Directed by John Roberts and written by Laurie Craig, the film's production budget was $23 million.[2]


The film scored a 62% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 37 reviews.[3] It was distributed in 24 countries and 10 different languages between 1998 and 1999.[citation needed] Box office receipts grossed $5,369,800 on the opening weekend, and $26,875,268 total.[4] It was released in 1,812 North American theaters.[2]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Category Result
ALMA Award Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film - Cheech Marin Nominated
ALMA Award Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film - Trini Alvarado Nominated
BAFTA Children's Award Best Children's Feature Film Won
Bronze Gryphon Early Screens - John Roberts Won
Young Artist Award Best family feature - Comedy Nominated
Young Artist Award Best performance in a feature film - Young Actress aged ten or under - Hallie Kate Eisenberg Nominated
Young Artist Award Best performance by a young actress in a comedy film - Hallie Kate Eisenberg Nominated


  1. ^ "Box Office Mojo". 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-23.
  2. ^ a b "PAULIE". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  3. ^ "Paulie (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, Inc. 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Angels Stays Aloft in Top Spot". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-07-08.

External linksEdit