Paulie is directed by John Roberts from an original screenplay by Laurie Craig. The hero is a parrot who doesn't just mimic back words; he talks. And what a problem that causes for those who have very specific ideas about animal behavior. In his first home, Paulie bonds with little Marie (Hallie Kate Eisenberg). While she tries to overcome her stuttering, he learns to speak. Her domineering father sends the parrot away just before they move across the country to Los Angeles.

Ivy (Gene Rowlands), a widow living in a Winnebago, volunteers to drive the parrot across country but her health gives out half way there. Paulie, who's never learned to fly, then has to try his wings. In Los Angeles, he spends time with an enterprising street vendor (Cheech Marin) and an incompetent burglar (Jay Mohr) before winding up at a research laboratory run by Dr. Reingold (Bruce Davison). The key to Paulie's reunion with Marie lies in the hands of Misha (Tony Shalhoub), a Russian immigrant janitor at the lab who loves long stories and long shots.

Paulie celebrates the deep ties of love and loyalty between human beings and animals. And in a comic way, it lampoons the patronizing attitudes some adults have about parrots. Paulie has the last laugh on them.