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‘Curly Sue’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 25, 1991


John Hughes
James Belushi;
Kelly Lynch;
Alisan Porter;
John Getz;
Fred Dalton Thompson
Parental guidance suggested

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Another day, another John Hughes movie. Make that another nanosecond . . . With "Curly Sue," the cute-meister puts a new kid on your block. We're talking ringleted Alisan Porter, a precocious, 9-year-old gamin on the scam and the scrounge.

Sometimes, it must be said, Porter is cute and amusing. Other times, you want to swing the little troll by the hair. People out for an easy time, their sights set no higher than Hughes's, may find this diverting.

Porter and guardian James Belushi survive on wits, sneaking free meals, slipping into movie theaters for free and crashing in welfare beds. Pulling into Chicago, they pull the old knockdown stunt on mean-hearted lawyer Kelly Lynch. As her car pulls out, Porter wacks the bumper with a plank, while Belushi lies on the ground. Thinking she knocked Belushi cold, petrified Lynch gives them a free dinner. Ah, but everyone needs more than just a square meal. Porter needs a mom. Lynch needs a heart. Belushi needs a woman.

Hughes doesn't create. He just adjusts his shopworn variables. In this movie and in EVERYTHING HE'S EVER DONE he riffs on the following:

• Kid versus grown-up.

• Nice versus nasty.

• Stupid versus smart.

• Loving versus loveless.

• Homeless versus homecoming.

The Illinois native also likes to throw in a road trip to Chicago, possibly so he can be near his house.

Belushi is a nice enough grown-up. He has a sort of simpatico boxer aspect (the canine kind). Lynch does something extra with her uni-dimensional caseload. She's no mega-thespian, but there's something unique about her face and her presence. In Hughes's scheme of things, it isn't long before she comes down from her snooty, designer heights to the real-earth level of the odd couple. Soon she's wolf-whistling her way through 3-D movies. She's sending Sue to school. And finally, she and Belushi -- and Hughes -- are well on their way to making more Curly Sues.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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