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Film / Paulie

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Paulie is a 1998 family film about a talking parrot, more accurately a blue-crowned conure. The film was directed by John Roberts, previously known for such films as "This Boy's Story" (1992) and "War Of The Buttons" (1994). The main stars were Jay Mohr, Tony Shalhoub, Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Buddy Hackett, Gena Rowlands, Cheech Marin, Tia Texada, Bruce Davison, and Trini Alvarado.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Marie's father, who argues with his wife in front of his daughter and gets angry when she can't say a word. He soon thinks his daughter, a 5 years old mind you, is getting mentally ill for saying Paulie was helping her. Then, he brings a cat home and doesn't want to believe it tried to kill a bird. Finally, he considers getting rid of Paulie, which is exactly what encouraged his daughter to teach Paulie to fly and fall off the roof.
  • Acrophobic Bird: Both Marie and Ivy spend time trying to teach Paulie to fly. He first has to overcome his fear of heights.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Paulie is constantly able to speak, learn new skills and form plans. He is surprised that the other parrots seem unable to do so, including his beloved Lupe.
  • Animal Testing: The lab. Though what the tests involve remains unclear.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The film was Rated PG solely because of "brief mild language." There are only two instances of profanity in the entire film, one use of "Up yours, jackass!" near the end of the film, and one use of "goddamn."
  • Big Damn Reunion: Marie and Paulie are separated when the former is a child and they are happily reunited at the end, when she is an adult.
  • A Boy and His X: A girl and her blue-crowned conure. Paulie's goal throughout the movie is to get back to his beloved Marie.
  • Break the Cutie: Marie is emotionally shattered when Paulie is driven away.
  • Character Title: The film is named after the parrot.
  • Chekhov's Gun: While reading a book on parrots, Misha finds a piece of paper with contact information written on it, which he uses the back of to write down what parrots like. When Paulie and Misha look through the office to find her contact info, Paulie mentions Marie by name, Misha realizes that the MA on the paper stood for her name and he had her information this whole time.
  • Dirty Coward: Benny. He got Paulie to rob somebody's house, and when the owner of the house found out, Benny selfishly ditched Paulie, for fear of being arrested.
  • Evil Is Petty: Presumably the only reason that Dr. Reingold keeps Paulie locked in the basement for years, even though he knows where his owner lives, and even after Paulie ceases being useful for the institution, is that he was still sore over Paulie insulting him in front of his scientific peers, after Paulie was (justifiably) upset that he'd been lied to. It might be argued that the real motive for the wing-clipping boils down to this trope as well. That or he was just insistant Paulie would finally break and play ball at some time or other.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's established in the film that the reason Marie's father acts the way he does is because he's a Shell-Shocked Veteran from serving in The Vietnam War.
  • Gold Digger: Now I ain't sayin' she's a gold digger, but Ruby's the one who pushes for the home robbery because she wants more luxury items than can be brought in ripping off ATM's. She's pretty vocal about it.
  • Irony: Marie decides to teach Paulie how to fly in case they're ever separated. The attempt leads to her being injured after falling off the roof, and her father decides to send Paulie away.
  • It's a Long Story: When Misha is trying to find out why Paulie won't talk to anyone but him:
    Paulie: It's a long story.
    Misha: I'm Russian. I like long stories.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Paulie can be this with his sarcastic, snarky personality and flippant insults. Ivy teaches him to tone it down. By the time Misha finds him, a lifetime full of disappointments has turned Paulie into a bitter bird.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: It may be a stretch to say career criminal Benny has a heart of gold. Nickel plated aluminum maybe. But by the time Paulie is ready to make his ill fated debut as a burglar, Benny, who had initially only birdnapped Paulie as pawn, has genuinely come to care about him, expressing concern about his safety multiple times. Doesn't stop Benny from bailing when things go sour though.
  • Karma Houdini: Benny. He abducts Paulie from Ignacio, who he was genuinely happy living with, trains Paulie into becoming a thief, and when Paulie is caught while they try to rob a house, Benny escapes and is never seen again.
  • Maybe Ever After: Misha and Marie.
  • Mood Whiplash: The press conference scene, where after Paulie discovers that Dr. Reingold had no true intention of returning him to Marie. He embarrasses him by acting like an ordinary parrot, then throws in such insults as "Up yours, jackass", which is funny at first, but it quickly becomes serious when Reingold asks him why he's acting this way, to which Paulie replies "You promised", then angrily shouts "Liar" over and over and tries to escape, which leads to him being captured and having his wings clipped.
  • Never Say "Die": Ivy. Her death isn't shown on screen - instead we see a shot of an ambulance outside her house while Paulie's narration states that "the cat got her".
  • Outlaw Couple: Benny and Ruby.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: Paulie is a talking bird; the catch is that every other parrot in the movie isn't, and most humans have difficulty believing that Paulie is.
    • The people who do know that he talks don't seem to realize that he understands English, and think he was trained to say these things.
  • Potty Failure: Implied to have happened to Paulie while in the car with Benny after they had burritos.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: Marie talks this way as a kid. It's through her speech therapy to correct her stutter that Paulie learns to speak like a human.
  • Say My Name: Marie wails Paulie’s name loudly while trying to catch up as he is driven off.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Paulie has trouble realizing that his little Marie has grown into a woman. However this comes as a pleasant surprise to Misha, who is obviously attracted to her.
  • Sliding Scale of Animal Communication: Level 7. Paulie can freely talk with people, but seems to be the only animal able to do so. Ironically, he's unable to talk to other parrots.
  • Talking Animal: Paulie. He is able to speak and think, but remains a pet.
  • Through His Stomach: Misha convinces a reluctant Paulie to talk by tempting him with fresh fruits a parrot would love to eat that he had been deprived of from his time in the basement.
  • Tropey, Come Home: Played with. Paulie has spent decades trying to locate Marie. How she spent the missing time is not covered. She just accepts that her pet returned.
  • Trust Password: The adult Marie proves her identity to a skeptical Paulie by singing a song she used to sing with him as a child.
  • Worthless Foreign Degree: Mentioned above, Belenkoff used to be a literature teacher in Russia, but reduced to a Janitor in the US.