Curly Sue Review

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Bill Dancer and his daughter Curly Sue are homeless people with hearts of gold, who scam the rich out of a meal or a night's accomodation here or there. But when they target lawyer Grey Ellison, they might have found more than just a bed for the night…


One-man comedy studio John Hughes takes on the noble task of resuscitating the 30s depression comedy and bungles it at every turn. Jim Belushi - once again proving that charisma doesn't necessarily run in the family - plays Bill Dancer, a semi-honest out-of-work drifter, who hitches around current-day America with Curly Sue, a semi-adorable little moppet (Alisan Porter). The two survive by a series of harmless scams, one of which involves Belushi pretending to be run over by boomers' Beemers, the better to cadge a meal and a little guilt money.

One evening Belushi actually does get hit by a cold-hearted attorney (Kelly Lynch) who takes Bill and C. S. to her unbelievably high-rent apartment. From then on, everything is eminently predictable: the lawyer learns to be a human - she even quits her job - and maternal; Bill admits that life on the road isn't the best upbringing for an eight-year-old; and everyone lives improbably ever after.

Hughes lifts liberally, but inappropriately, from Chaplin, Capra, and Sturges. Every borrowing is stripped of both humour and poignancy; in fact, whether intended as a comedy or not, this is the least funny film Hughes has made. The sentimentality doesn't work either, since none of the leads displays the least charm; and George Delerue's score underlines every scene, comic or emotional, as though it was the payoff to a tragedy.

It's hard to like a film that tries so hard to be nauseatingly cute - especially when, as in this case, it fails.