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A macaw parrot who long ago was witness to a pirate burying his treasure chest on a Pacific Island (macaws live long) is these days the feisty companion of Grandpa (Jason Robards) who collects and cares for exotic birds. He is also deeply in debt, and his son (Joe Petruzzi) wants to sell off the grand old house to pay the bills, which would mean a retirement home for Grandpa. Grandpa’s 15 year old grandson, Sam (Jamie Croft) is devastated. What with the relationship with his dad going through a bad patch, Sam is in turmoil. That’s when the parrot, Mac, reveals that he can not only talk, he can easily recall where the treasure of the old pirate is buried. He and Mac hatch a scheme to help Grandpa pay his bills and set off on what becomes a wild adventure, with Grandpa and Sam’s parents in pursuit. But when Sam and Mac try to sell an antique ring from around Mac’s left foot, they inadvertently excite the visibly ambitious academic, Dr Hagen (John Waters), who senses fame as well as fortune for himself, and intends to collect whatever Sam finds.

"The opening scenes of 19th century pirates in the Amazon set up an exotic scenario for what soon becomes a ripping yarn for youngsters, filled with classic buried treasure, modern family conflicts and old fashioned human values. Despite Jamie Croft’s enthusiastic youngster and the earnest, even dramatic performances of Petruzzi, Furness and Robards as his folks, the star of the film is Mac – or rather the bird’s character, driven entirely by the voice work of Danny Murphy. It is not merely the voice, its fruity Spanish accent (acquired from the Spanish pirate who spoke English with a Spanish accent, of course) but the witty, sometimes hip dialogue, some of it improvised to match the macaw’s actions, that gives the film its humour and its energy. Not meaning to compare, but Murphy does for The Real Macaw what Robin Williams did for Aladdin; he gives the film another dimension. And the film remains a family adventure, not an adult comedy; while the abovementioned played it admirably straight, John Waters goes a fraction over the top, and the multi talented Gerry Connolly sails right over it as the fussy security manager at the ritzy resort on the island where the treasure had been buried. But for its audience, these elements will add to the fun. Budget limitations hamper the climactic scenes at sea, but frankly, this is not the sort of movie where the stunts and special effects are priorities. The thematic core of the script – about the treasures within us all – give the fun some impetus, and Bill Conti’s polished, restrained score serves as an effective gondola for our emotions. Take your kids, take your grannies, take your sense of humour."
Andrew L. Urban

"The Real Macaw is a real charmer: a feel good family film, combining a fable-like tale about rum-swilling pirates and buried treasure, with family values and a sense of belonging. Bruce Hancock and Matthew Perry’s script is sharp and witty - compounded by Danny Murphy’s entertaining ad-lib voicing of the film’s feathered star, Mac, whose brilliant cerulean blue and gold feathers embody a bird with an overload of character, personality and attitude. Mario Andreacchio’s film doesn’t profess to be anything more than it is - the emphasis is placed on the heart, rather than the frills, as per Bill Conti’s main theme song "The Treasure in You". Jason Robards is a solid presence as Grandpa, while Jamie Croft gives an enjoyable performance as Sam, the teen whose emotional journey is canvassed in the course of the film. John Waters - always a good addition, is a trifle over-directed here, but comedian Gerry Connolly hits the mark with some good old fashioned comedy. The nightclub scene when Sam plays ventriloquist to the very cheeky bird is very, very funny, and lingers long after the scene is over. In the same league as last year’s talking animal flick Paws, The Real Macaw wins out with humour, emotion and charm - there’s plenty to squawk about."
Louise Keller

"Another talking-animal quickie produced in the wake of Babe, with chases, corny jokes, and slightly confused 'multicultural' undertones. The script's wittiest idea is to set its quest for treasure on a once-remote tropical island that's been transformed into a booming holiday resort. Here our youthful hero dashes round dodging surly but well-spoken Polynesian hotel staff, while his supposedly Spanish parrot mutters wisecracks about Beavis and Butthead in a kind of generalised wog voice suggesting Bruno Lucia on an off day. The obligatory 'dysfunctional family' theme leaves Australian men looking weak and stupid as usual, but our cinema's ongoing need for imported father figures at least brings us the welcome presence of Jason Robards, in the roguish-old-codger role most recently allotted to Warren Mitchell in Crackers. As a twinkling apostle of 'the wonder of life,' Robards has possibly the worst dialogue in the movie, but still manages to blow Deborra-Lee Furness off the screen. Furness, meanwhile, seems to be preparing her audition-tape for The Kerri-Anne Kennerley Story... This modest film probably has enough bird action to satisfy young children; otherwise pretty bland."
Jake Wilson

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Read Andrew L. Urban's ON LOCATION report

Read Paul Fischer's interview with DEBORRA-LEE FURNESS


CAST: Jason Robards, Jamie Croft, Deborra-Lee Furness, John Waters, Joe Petruzzi, Gerry Connolly and Daniel Murphy as the voice of Mac

DIRECTOR: Maria Andreacchio

PRODUCER: Margot McDonald

SCRIPT: Bruce Hancock and Matthew Perry


EDITOR: Edward McQueen-Mason

MUSIC: Tom Conti


RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 17, 1998 in Melbourne, Brisbane; Sept 24 in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth 

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