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Paulie is an intelligent parrot, the cherished pet of a little girl whose parents disagree about the best approach to her speech therapy; he's separated from her after his command of English leads to a dangerous misunderstanding. Years of adventurous encounters—with Gena Rowlands, Cheech Marin, Jay Mohr—are presented in flashback as Paulie explains to a new friend (Tony Shalhoub) how he ended up in a cage in the dark basement of a research building where Shalhoub, who plays a recent immigrant, has landed a job as a janitor. Shalhoub gives an impressively nuanced performance in the dangerously cliched role, and Paulie—a combination of trained parrots, animatronics, and the voice of Mohr—comes across as a fully developed character in a story that's sweetly, if generically, philosophical. John Roberts directed a screenplay by Laurie Craig (1998).

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