Curly Sue

From a moneymaking standpoint (does anything else matter in a new John Hughes film?), the ad campaign for Curly Sue seems made to order. There, directly under the line ”The world’s smallest con artist is in town,” is Curly Sue (Alisan Porter), the cute-as-a-button heroine, her cherubic oval face set off by a mane of curls and a mischievously tight-lipped I’m-gonna-getcha grin. One glance at this postpunk Shirley Temple and every kid in America must be thinking, ”It’s the girl version of Home Alone!”

How disappointed they will be. Hughes’ comedies have always been fueled by two modes, the sadistic and the sentimental, and this time he has given in to his gushy, ”sincere” side. Curly Sue turns out to be a homeless waif traveling with her good-hearted guardian (Jim Belushi) from one grungy pit stop to another. After faking an accident, they are taken in by a yuppie divorce lawyer (Kelly Lynch) who doesn’t understand the importance of Feelings. They give her heart; she gives them food, shelter, and — in the inevitable you-too- can-change-your-identity-through-shopping montage — some spanking new duds. Together, they become a happy family. The key to Home Alone‘s success is that, in its second half, it turned into a pint-size Rambo, with Macaulay Culkin kicking major butt. In Curly Sue, an occasional cartoon punch sends characters flying across the room, but most of the movie is somber and treacly. In scene after scene, Hughes tries to get us to feel sorry for Curly Sue. (If only she had a home!) He’s like a Santa with nothing in his bag but cheap tricks. D-

Curly Sue
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