DreamWorks // 1998 // 91 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // May 23rd, 1999
The bird is the word.
Dreamworks continues their red-hot string of beautifully done transfers with this fun family oriented film.
If there is one studio that I admire for getting it right the first time, it has to be Dreamworks. Yeah, they held out on us for quite a while, but now that they have jumped on the DVD bandwagon, they are really treating us to some special releases. Unlike the early missteps of a Universal, or the nightmare of Warner's "budget line" Dreamworks has given us what we want right out of the gates. Anamorphic, pristine transfers with a flip side containing full screen, special edition content when possible or warranted and pretty good movies. This is another in their string of excellence.
The transfer of this film is as good as any. Anamorphically presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the colors are rich and deep. The video makes the transition well from low-key lit scenes to bright daylight ones without a hitch. The film elements used are very good, with no scratching or pitting evident. The transfer does not have that grainy look about it that so many overly compressed transfers do. The people at Dreamworks took their time with this one and it shows.
The audio is as good as a film like this can be, with sparing use of surrounds and subwoofer channels. This is a dialogue driven movie for the most part, and the dialogue comes across loud and clear. In other words, no complaints given the limitations of the genre.
I was pleasantly surprised by the story of Paulie. I remember back when they were promoting this film heavily. It was, generally speaking, pumped up as a "family" type feel good movie. While it is that, it also is much more than just that. A wry, satiric comedic element runs all the way through the writing of this film, and it is a welcome change from the syrup-flavored offerings of so many other "family films." It also includes a rather unexpected feel good ending, which had me welling up a bit. Mind you, this was not a full-fledged break out the Kleenex, Field of Dreams moment. But, it was effective nonetheless.
The acting here is pretty solid, for the most part. While it was good to see Buddy Hackett working, I probably would have gone with someone else. Gena Rowlands does a fine job as Ivy, who takes care of Paulie for a time. The real star here is Jay Mohr who plays two roles in the film, including the role of Paulie. Paulie's quips and one-liners are very, very funny at times. Also worth note is Tony Shalhoub, who we are seeing more and more of. Thankfully, his talents are being utilized in Hollywood.
My only complaint about this disc is the lack of inclusion of some of the wonderful extras I know exist. How do I know? Because I was bombarded with them during the media blitz during the film's initial release. I can't tell you how many times the cable companies aired the "making of" featurette of this film, which included some great shots of working with the parrots and some detailed info on the animatronics involved in the film. Included are a theatrical trailer and talent bios, as well as some cute animated menu transition designs.
Paulie is what a family film should be. Aside from a few language issues, I would not hesitate to show this film to some pretty young kids. Then again, since I don't have any of my own, I really can't make that judgment.
Acquitted on all counts, except extras.
Review content copyright © 1999 Sean McGinnis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Production Notes
* Cast and Filmmaker Bios'
* Theatrical Trailer