The Real Macaw

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Real Macaw Movie Poster Image
Silly boy-and-his-pet adventure has some peril, slapstick.
  • G
  • 1998
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

This film was intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive Messages

As Grandpa Girdis says, "Life without joy isn't life for anyone, especially a child."

Positive Role Models & Representations

The vast majority of characters are one or two-dimensional, but Grandpa Girdis shows through example that it is possible to grow older and yet remain young in spirit.

Violence & Scariness

A boat explodes after a cigar is dropped on fuel. A boy is thrown out of a boat. A boy riding a skateboard loses control and falls on his side. Also cartoonish slapstick -- a hotel security guard gets a melon dropped on his head from a tree, knocking him out; a frustrated waiter throws a hatchet at a macaw wreaking havoc in a restaurant kitchen; a pirate flails his sword at a macaw after the macaw defecates on his nose.

Sexy Stuff

Early in the film, Mac the Macaw expresses a fondness for Perrier because it soothes his stomach.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A bad guy character is always shown smoking a cigar. Parents drink wine at dinner. Patrons of a hotel lounge have drinks at their table.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Real Macaw is a straightforward boy-and-his-pet adventure comedy with some mild peril and cartoonish violence. While there is some discussion of the difficulties between the tween boy and his father, there isn't much time or attention paid to this plot.

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What's the story?

Grandpa Girdis (Jason Robards) is a vibrant and energetic grandfather to skateboarding tweenager Sam Girdis (Jamie Croft). Sam is having difficulties with his grades at school, and this is a point of contention with his strict father. At the same time it's revealed that Grandpa Girdis can no longer afford the mortgage on his home. Sam realizes that Grandpa's 149-year old macaw Mac (voiced by John Goodman) can not only mimic speech, but can understand the English language and can effortlessly toss out pithy one-liners. Mac also knows where there is a treasure chest with enough jewels and riches to save Grandpa Girdis's home. Sam runs away from home with Mac, and they fly from Australia to Coral Island in the South Pacific, where they must contend with an unfriendly hotel staff and a nefarious jeweler who will stop at nothing to steal the treasures away from Sam and Mac.

Is it any good?

There is no denying that THE REAL MACAW is a ludicrous movie. Not only can Mac the Macaw speak, but he can understand English, make an endless stream of one-liners, but can also read words and can find Coral Island on a map. Mac also knows where there is buried treasure. Not the stuff of hard-hitting realism, but for straightforward family fun -- with slapstick pratfalls and silliness -- The Real Macaw accomplishes what it sets out to do: entertain.

It's certainly not a masterpiece, but for a kid-and-his-gifted-pet film, you could do a whole lot worse than The Real Macaw. It is what it is, and with the right expectations and the proper suspension of disbelief, this movie should be enjoyable for the whole family.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about "child-and-his-pet" movies. How is The Real Macaw similar and different from movies where children and their pets go on adventures? What is the appeal of movies like these?

  • What could Mac the Macaw do that macaws can't do in real life?

  • How is Grandpa Girdis different from how older people are sometimes portrayed in movies or on TV? Does he challenge or reinforce any stereotypes?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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