This review is sponsored by


Details At A Glance

Category Family Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer - 1.85:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:10)
Year Released 1998
Running Time 87:39 minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (69:59)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Menu
Region 2,4 Director John Roberts
Dreamworks SKG 
Universal Home Video
Starring Gena Rowlands
Tony Shaloub
Cheech Marin
Bruce Davison
Trini Alvarado
Jay Mohr
Hallie Kaye Eisenberg
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music John Debney

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
Dutch (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

   So having had the privilege of reviewing three great films in Arsenic And Old Lace, North By Northwest and Strangers On A Train, I have to endure the penance. And penance thy name shall be Paulie. A film I might add that I had hoped to get out of reviewing by giving up the allocation of, only to have it rebound back to me because of the circumstances of having indulged in some premium product. The only reason I initially stuck my hand up to do the review was because I had the Region 1 equivalent DVD, the reasons for which I never quite understood. I think it was one of those times that I succumbed to purchasing the movie on the strength of one classic line in the trailer  - which of course was excised from the final film. It also happened to be going dirt cheap at Best Buy at the time...

   Well, rather than prolong the agony, let's get on with the review. Paulie is the story of a bird - but no ordinary bird. A rather remarkable bird in that this parrot does not just mimic speech, he possesses cognitive speech. Given to young Marie Allweather (Hallie Kate Eisenberg), a young lady with something of a learning impairment, Paulie (voiced by Jay Mohr) becomes her best friend and her best English teacher. However, her dependence upon Paulie causes her parents to take the bird away from her and Paulie eventually winds up in a pawn shop, where he abuses the customers like Benny (Jay Mohr) and from whence he is rescued by Ivy (Gena Rowlands) with the intent of teaching him some manners. However, Paulie never forgets Marie and does his best to find her - including cajoling Ivy into locating the Allweather home. When they do so, Marie is long gone to Los Angeles - and so the sharp-tongued Paulie cajoles Ivy into a transcontinental journey to find her. Paulie eventually makes it to LaLa Land and falls for a sexy little girl parrot and becomes part of a parrot troupe at a down-market taco joint run by Ignacio (Cheech Marin), from which he is "rescued" by his old "mate" Benny and embarks on a career in crime. That lands him in serious trouble as he is captured and ends up as the prize recruit at an animal research laboratory. But when he does not talk, he ends up in solitary, where he eventually befriends Russian émigré Misha (Tony Shaloub), who listens to his story and resolves to find Marie (Trini Alvarado) and reunite her with Paulie. All this of course takes quite a few years and Marie is no longer a little girl but a grown woman.

   For the life of me, I searched all over the DVD and could not find the Disney logo, even though this entire story really is straight out of the saccharine sweet sap book that Disney keeps, with cute kids and cute animals doing cute things. I really don't feel at all well - excuse me for a moment...

   So basically we have a bit of ersatz Disney from the new kid on the block - Dreamworks SKG. The studio started off in a pretty fine blaze of glory, but this is one of their early average titles. The story is okay I guess, since we were really not expecting William Shakespeare here, were we? After all, the entire basis of the story is pretty preposterous. Director John Roberts manages to make the best of what the story has to offer, and the presentation as a story narrative certainly is engaging enough I suppose. Had it not been for the presence of Gena Rowlands though, the whole thing would have been a disaster. Jay Mohr is at best annoying, and should have been restricted to voicing the bird alone. Bruce Davison does his usual shtick, which never was very good in my view and this is not one of his better efforts. Cheech Marin tries to resurrect the entire film in five minutes and fails miserably (but at least is watchable). Tony Shaloub plays the Russian émigré like there is no tomorrow, full of banal clichés that really get annoying. However, since the film is aimed at the younger set, who gives a toss? The youngsters will probably have a ball watching the film as some sort of glossy facade with no depth. Well, once or twice maybe. At their level this probably works very well.

   Putting on my six year old cap, I would say that this is a nice film about a pretty bird doing some funny things and having a bit of a laugh. There is a really distinct market for this film and anyone over the age of ten is not in that market. By all means suffer it with your kids, but just make sure that you have some restoration juice on hand for after they have gone to bed.

Transfer Quality


    This is a pretty good example of a rather blasé transfer. Perfectly adequate in every respect, with nothing to really complain about other than the fact that it simple does not excel in any way.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the TV equivalent of the theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    Short and pretty sweet: a nice, decently sharp transfer with ample definition that hides nothing, very good shadow detail throughout (although there was not much opportunity for dark mystery here anyway), plenty of clarity with no hint of grain and no low level noise at all. Don't think I forgot anything there at all. The only issue is that when compared to the Region 1 version of the DVD, the transfer just does not shine like the Region 1 transfer.

    One thing that I always remember about the Region 1 release was the bright, vibrant palette of colours on offer - exactly the sort of thing that you would expect in a family film. Thus my immediate reaction to this Region 4 release was "what happened?" Sure, it still has a decent palette of bright colours on offer, but it just did not seem to have that gloss to it that I remember from the Region 1 release. So, I went back and watched the Region 1 release again and...memory is obviously a variable thing, for the two transfers are virtually identical. On a couple of occasions I was somewhat underwhelmed by the slight overbrightness in the transfer which seemed to rob the transfer of some colour depth. Still, it is by no means a lousy palette of colours and it is still a better than good effort. The overall look is quite natural and believable. Tonal depth could perhaps have been a little better in places, but the blacks were generally good. There are no oversaturation problems at all, and colour bleed did not seem to be an issue at all.

    There are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are no film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. There was such a dearth of film artefacts that I actually recorded the time of the only major one I noticed - a black mark at 17:25, but please bear in mind that by the last half hour of the film I was having serious trouble staying awake and thus might have missed some stuff.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming mid-scene at 69:59. Whilst it does occur mid-scene, it is decently placed and is barely disruptive to the film, even though it is a little obvious.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three soundtracks on offer on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a Dutch Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to the English soundtrack and did not sample the other two soundtracks.

    The dialogue comes up well and is clear and easy to understand. There is no problem with audio sync in the transfer at all - at least as far as that part of the transfer which does not have inherent sync problems (that is, Paulie talking).

    The original music comes from John Debney and whilst it is never going to be confused with something done by a true master like John Williams, it is a pretty decent effort that does what it needs to in supporting the mood and flow of the film. A little more originality would not have gone astray though.

    The soundtrack pretty well mirrors the video transfer - good without being spectacular. Whilst more rear channel ambience would have been appreciated, the front surrounds are decently used to provide an almost cosy feeling to the sound at times that really suits the narrative style well. Obviously there is little in the way of bass channel use here, as the film simply does not need it. The sound is not the most open that I have ever heard but it is free from distortion and with the lack of huge sound effects, the result is a reasonably natural-sounding effort.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Well, the trailer tells us that there are certainly deleted scenes from the film. It would have been nice to have those on the DVD. Even a boring EPK-style behind-the-scenes featurette would not have gone too far astray. In fact, just about anything would have been an improvement upon what we have here.


    Decently themed in a cutsie way, the audio enhancement is hardly worth while worrying about. Sadly deficient when compared to the Region 1 release.

Theatrical Trailer (2:10)

    A fairly typical two minute piece of promotion of the 1990s that manages to give away most of the major plot points of the film. The best lines in the trailer do not appear in the film. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Technically nothing wrong here.


    As far as we have been able to ascertain, there are no censorship issues with this title.

R4 vs R1

    There are two Region 1 DVDs in existence for this film. There is the bare bones release which is the comparative version to the Region 4 release. The Region 1 release features cast and crew biographies and production notes that are not on the Region 4 release, as well as significantly better menu audio and animation enhancement. The Region 1 release is also a dual sided DVD, with Pan and Scan and widescreen transfers on different sides. The Region 4 release provides them on the same side of the DVD using Auto Pan and Scan encoding. The Region 1 release is rounded out with a small booklet with some production notes. As indicated, there is nothing much between the two releases as far as the transfer goes.

    The other Region 1 DVD is a bare bones effort with a DTS soundtrack in place of the Dolby Digital 5.1 effort. I do not quite know why you would need DTS sound for a film of this nature, but if your need DTS then you will have to go with the Region 1 release.


    Paulie is a not a film for the over-ten set, and would drive me to drink if I watched it more than once a year. The younger set however would probably find more enjoyment here than I, and the film is presented with a decent transfer. The extras package leaves a lot to be desired however and at the retail price indicator of $39.95 I would suggest that you leave this one on the buying shelves and give it a rent instead. It does not represent good value for money at that RPI at all.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
1st June, 2001.

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL