I so want to tell you that "Curly Sue" is another classic John Hughes movie but I can't, it doesn't matter that I enjoyed it because quite simply it is a movie plagued by issues. From not knowing exactly who its target audience is to going on slightly too long, it almost stutters something fun followed by something dull till you get a happy ever after, seriously cutesy ending. And that is another issue because "Curly Sue" is John Hughes in full manufactured emotion flow, from cute kid, to sweet storyline it is a movie which needs the audience to be in the right mood because if you're not it is a movie which is going to annoy you as it manipulates your emotions and pushes your buttons.
Having raised her from a baby Bill Dancer (James Belushi - About Last Night...) and Curly Sue (Alisan Porter) are inseparable and whilst they don't have much they have each other and they get by, pulling scams so that they can eat but never doing anything really bad. When they scam divorce lawyer Grey Ellison (Kelly Lynch - Road House) by making out she backed into Bill all they hope for is a free meal. But Grey can't get either Bill or Sue out of her head and when she then genuinely knocks Bill over insists they stay with her much to the annoyance of her snobby boyfriend who causes trouble for Bill and Sue.
As I already mentioned "Curly Sue" has an issue when it comes to target audience because it is a family movie and an inoffensive one at that. But it is also a movie of two halves with the first half which focuses on the humour of Bill and Curly Sue scamming free meals being fun for young audiences. The whole comedy of Sue giving Bill a bruise on his head is a bit of classic John Hughes slapstick and this continues as Bill ends up being hit numerous times. And it does work, as an adult it made me smile in the same way "Home Alone" now makes me smile where as a child it made me laugh.
But then you get the second half as Grey Ellison takes them in, having initially been scammed and not only falls in love with the cute Curly Sue but also Bill. And it becomes more of a rom com but with the occasional moment, and I do mean occasional moment of humour for children. It's a blend which doesn't quite work making it a movie which struggles to entertain younger audiences during the second half.
And all of this story from the comedy of the scams to the charm of the romance and Grey falling for Bill and Sue is so sweet, so cute that unless you are in the mood for an onslaught of sweetness you are going to struggle. In fact at times it feels like John Hughes not only wanted to deliver a sweet movie but the sweetest and cutest of all time from young Curly Sue singing the National Anthem through to the button pushing, emotion filled ending. It is almost a case that "Curly Sue" beats you into submission because the emotional ending is actually so good that you can't but help enjoy it.
Now as already mentioned "Curly Sue" is a very cute movie and to be honest Alisan Porter epitomises everything cute as Curly Sue, she is "Annie" for the 90s with curly hair, cheeky smile and that young girl singing voice. And if you are not in the mood for an onslaught of cuteness then you are not going to enjoy Alisan Porter's performance but it is a very good performance and it is Porter who makes the ending so emotionally brilliant, well that and John Hughes clever writing. So good is Porter that whilst both James Belushi and Kelly Lynch are entertaining as Bill and Grey they end up being Porter's supporting stars.
What this all boils down to is that "Curly Sue" is a movie which has various issues but the biggest one is if you're not in the mood to be emotionally manipulated with an onslaught of sugary sweet cuteness you're going to hate it. But if you are in the mood then "Curly Sue" becomes a charming little movie with a wonderful performance from the adorable Alisan Porter.