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" marie couldn't talk , " paulie , the parrot star of his own movie , tells us about the daughter in his original family .
" dad couldn't listen .
and mom couldn't cope , so they got rid of me . "
paulie , the autobiography of a talking , not merely a mimicking , parrot , has jay mohr in the lead role of the bird - the voice , not the body - and as the minor character of benny , a small-time crook who uses paulie to pull off small scams like stealing twenties from atms .
as the parrot , mohr is delightful when director john roberts allows him to cut up .
benny , on the other hand , is a character you've seen a thousand times before , and mohr brings nothing new to that role .
roberts's deliberately slow pacing of laurie craig's script lends a subtle sweetness to its humor but creates some definite problems .
when a kids' movie wants to mosey along , watch out .
if the material is not crisp and perfectly composed , beauty can sometimes dissolve into tedium .
so it is with paulie .
when they let their bird do his stand-up comedy routines , the show hums and the audience roars .
too often , however , a sleepy silence ensues among the viewers as they wait for the story to pickup again .
tony shalhoub , the smart-mouthed chef from big night , plays misha , a recent russian immigrant to the u . s . he had been a teacher of literature at home , but now he makes his living as a janitor in the animal research lab to which paulie has been taken for study .
although misha gets a few nice lines ( " i'm russian .
i like long stories . " ) ,
his somber part seems designed only to elicit our sympathy .
besides paulie , the only character worth noting - other than 2 cute small parts played by cheech marin and gina rowlands - is the speech-impaired marie , played in a precious performance by cinematic newcomer , 5-year-old hallie kate eisenberg .
naturally enchanting , she gives the picture genuine heart .
the bad news is that her part is confined to the first half .
the best scenes have the bird dancing and strutting to show off his comedic skills .
when marie's family gets a cat , for example , the bird , who hasn't wanted to learn how to fly until then , takes an instant interest in soaring .
tricking the cat while insulting him at the same time , paulie calls him a stupid hairball .
their rapid physical antics add to the humor of the situation .
it's good quality sitcom material but performed by animals .
when one of the humans without much of a voice begins to sing , paulie cringes .
" i'm a bird , " he explains with his frequently subtle humor .
" i have a small brain , and it's about to explode . "
the movie contains rich doses of john debney's dreamy music .
with heavy use of a solo violin , he keeps reinforcing the film's heart-warming themes .
and when paulie finally takes off in flight , the orchestra comes up loud and strong with cymbals clashing .
" it's a long story , " says paulie .
" it's the only kind he knows , " reflects misha .
and the motion picture , which runs the standard length for a kids' movie , still feels too long .
the best parts are enthralling , but then there are all of those dead spots in-between .
paulie is a movie that never quite lives up to its promise but manages to charm nevertheless .
paulie runs 1 : 32 .
it is raged pg for a few mild profanities and would be fine for all ages .
my son , jeffrey , age 9 , gave the movie * * with his biggest complaint being that there wasn't enough action .
he thought paulie was funny , and the actress that played marie was quite good .
his friend sam , almost 9 , thought the movie was " awesome , excellent , " and gave it * * * * .
he thought paulie was good , but he didn't believe the way marie's speech impediment was acted .
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