Forget you guys, I'm not referencing the Takida song of the same name, because it's too recent, and does the opposite of this film: actually tries to take itself seriously, to the point of being post-grunge. Yeah, it's a little hard to take anyone or anything with the name "Curly Sue" very seriously, although that might simply be because of this film, which doesn't even take itself seriously enough to spring for bigger names. I mean, it's not like this film was ever going to get John Belushi, for obvious reasons, but it probably could have done better than Jim Belushi, and of all the Beatles it could have gotten to do an original song, it got Ringo Starr. No, people, I like Ringo, but he isn't quite Paul, or even George, who they should have gotten for the sake of reinforcing this film's themes on eyebrows. As surely as anyone or anything named "Curly Sue" is hard to take seriously, any film featuring a Belushi brother is somewhat about eyebrows, seeing as how they're so characteristic for a Belushi, and if you're going by that logic, this film is also about noses, because, to those who like interesting facts, at least so that you would have something interesting to talk about when it comes to this film, this marked Steve Carrell's film debut. Actually, I guess you could do worse when it comes to films to debut in than the last feature directed by John Hughes, but if that's not good enough, you still shouldn't worry, because people will be directing their disappointment towards Hughes once they start thinking about how this was indeed the last film he directed. Well, I guess people outside of me will be doing that, because I actually like the film, despite its having some laziness which extends beyond getting Ringo Starr when they could have gotten George Harrison.
I suppose the charm of the performances and some highlights in endearing storytelling allow you to get used to the characters and their sides of the stories, because laziness even plagues expository value, to the point of cleansing the film of immediate development, while limiting gradual development, even though the film is long enough as it is, reaching a runtime of a smidge over 100 minutes partly through draggy material, or at least material that feels draggy, due to limp spells in atmosphere. The film is plenty entertaining, and that saves the final product as pretty decent, but there are cold spells in John Hughes' direction that, when coupled with a combination of tightening development down and dragging filler out, result in an inconsistency in pacing which proves about almost as blanding as tonal inconsistencies. As much as they advertize this film as fluff, fluff and more fluff, it's accurately billed as a comedy-drama, at least to an extent in which the fluff is juggled with sentimentality, and not exactly organically, as the film, partly because it's so underdeveloped and largely because it's so tonally unsubtle, fails to flesh out layers enough to be less than jarring with its alternating between light and slightly weighty. Of course, no matter which tonal extreme it jars to, the film keeps consistent in cheese, whether it be devolving to a near-trite and decidedly corny, if not rather immature sense of humor, or devolving too deeply into sentimentality, trying a touch too hard to draw your investment into a narrative that, even in concept, is too thin for its own good. The story is too light to be all that interesting, of course, and it's surely barely probable, but more than any of that, it's unrefreshing, with nothing new to say that as a very early '90s fluff dramedy about the poor and the rich changing each other's lives upon meeting under unusual circumstances. There's something lazy about this unoriginal story concept, whose interpretation is about as bland, maybe not to where I'm nearly as aggravated with the final product as others, but certainly to where the final product fails to stand as all that rewarding as the final directorial effort for a legendary filmmaker. Regardless, this reflects John Hughes' filmmaking sharpness to endear through all of its shortcomings with a share of commendable elements.
Mere months away from passing away, Georges Delerue turned in a score for this film which was neither unique nor consistently subtle, augmenting much of the film's cheesy feel, but still also augmenting color through lively alternations between upbeat compositions and some tastefully subdued, if a little sentimental pieces. The soundtrack is prominent throughout the film, and it's generally successful in securing entertainment value, established through a final directorial performance by John Hughes which, while uneven, sentimental and altogether not nearly as inspired as other notable efforts by Hughes, keeps pace generally smooth enough to be fun, until steadied in a realized enough fashion to, well, kind of compel, particularly with a genuinely moving, if very commercially written ending. The film is dramatically lacking, of course, but endearing highlights stand, not so much on the backs of an engrossing narrative or subtle writing, but on the back of a directorial thoughtfulness by Hughes that reflects the now-late filmmaker's storytelling abilities, despite questionable material, including material that he himself penned. Of course, that's not to say that the material Hughes has to work with as a director is consistently questionable, for although his script is particularly reflective of laziness, what with its structural and tonal inconsistencies, expository shortcomings and cheese, Hughes draws a decent, if barely probable dramedy story which is thematically sweet, and interpreted with some actually genuine and effective dramatics, and plenty of genuinely amusing humor. The film has plenty of lazy-feeling elements, but it actually doesn't feel lazy on the whole, feeling more ambitious as a lighthearted dramedy, more than a few elements of which are, in fact, well-handled by Hughes' entertaining storytelling, as well as anchored by a worthy cast. At the very least, the leads of this cast endear, with Kelly Lynch being actually pretty convincing in her portrayal of a lonely woman whose heart goes warmed by misfortunate, but well-meaning characters, while Jim Belushi and a young Alisan Porter most engage, not just with individual thorough charm, but with a chemistry that is near-delightful in its own charm, with a hint of dramatic effectiveness that sells the more sensitive themes of this film. The film is driven by its characters' interactions, the performers, being more effective than the writing of the interactions, prove to be effective enough to play an instrumental role in carrying the final product as pretty decent, maybe even a touch underrated, even with a share of issues that are overcome enough by highlights in performances on and off of the screen to make for a fair, if forgettable dramedy.
Bottom line, the film jarringly alternates between underdeveloped and overdrawn, and cheesily fluffy and dramatically sentimental, while keeping consistent enough in improbability and a lack of originality for the final product to collapse as underwhelming and forgettable, but not as faulty as they say, thanks to the tender, if sentimental scoring and direction, adequately colorful writing, and worthy performances by and chemistry between John Belushi, Kelly Lynch and Alisan Porter that make John Hughes' "Curly Sue" a plenty entertaining and sometimes touching family dramedy, despite its shortcomings.
2.5/5 - Fair