Making the Grades
For an industry that seems to never tire of repeating ideas, a film about an obnoxious parrot is a natural concept. Paulie is a bird who belongs to a little girl with a speech impediment. Specialists are called in to teach the girl to talk, and voila! The bird learns perfect English, and we're not just talking about craving crackers. This feathered miracle can hold a conversation and even throw insults. But his gift of gab develops into a problem when Marie becomes increasingly dependent on her pet. In fear of their daughter's mental health, her parents send Paulie packing.
Despite their separation, Paulie never forgets Marie. When an elderly lady, Ivy (Gena Rowlands) buys him from a pawn shop, he sweet talks her into taking him home to the little girl. Although they find the house, Marie's family has moved across the country. So Paulie and Ivy set off to find her.
Of course the trip doesn't go according to plan. Paulie's loyalty to the kindhearted Ivy is tested, and during the course of his adventure, he becomes involved in everything from a Mexican dancing group to an accomplice for a jewel thief. Eventually he winds up behind bars as a lab specimen.
This little jailbird's occasional rude expressions along with a few tense moments when the lab attendants trim his wings, may cause a few ruffled feathers for parents, but I found the story had a lot of charm. When Paulie puts his own desires aside in order to stay and help Ivy through a difficult time in her life, he demonstrates a selfless attitude to young audiences -- something not easily found in films today. It's experiences like this that help Paulie to see the good and bad in people. During the course of the story he learns there are times when it is better to be quiet and times when it is better to speak up. That's one Hollywood idea that is worth repeating.