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By Ron Wells | April 20, 1998

Swell. DreamWorks Pictures kicks off its ’98 releases with a talking animal movie. Woo-hoo! Keep dreamin’!
Here’s the deal: A lonely, stuttering granddaughter gets a parrot to keep her company. As the kid learns to speak better, so does the parrot, Paulie (voice of Jay Mohr). Dad comes home from Vietnam, blames bird for his own inadequacies, and gets rid of bird. Bird spends rest of movie trying to reunite with girl who has moved across the country. Whaddoyaknow? Bird just happens to meet a zany and colorful assortment of people, who teach Paulie a little about life and maybe, learn a little something about themselves. My head still throbs from being hit repeatedly with blunt life lessons.
The picture isn’t quite as forced as I’m making it sound. Thankfully, there’s not some evil villain chasing Paulie across America, just some idiot scientist who cages the bird to try to further his own career. Most of the movie is told in flashback to a newly immigrant Russian janitor, Misha (Tony Shalhoub). Misha pines for the girl back home with whom he never had the nerve to express his feelings. So, he came to California with an aching in his heart. Someone told him there’s a girl out there, with love in her heart and flowers in — HEY! DAMMIT! A TALKING ANIMAL MOVIE RIPPING OFF LED ZEPPELIN! I don’t know whether to take off a star or add one on.

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