Curly Sue is a 1991 American romantic-comedy film directed by John Hughes (his last film as a director).

Plot[edit | edit source]

Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Bill Dancer and his young companion Curly Sue are the archetypal homeless folks with hearts of gold. Their scams are aimed not at turning a profit, but at getting enough to eat.

After moving from Detroit to Chicago, the duo cons the rich divorce lawyer Grey Ellison into believing she backed her Mercedes into Bill, in hopes of a free meal. When Grey accidentally collides with Bill for real, she insists on putting the two up for the night, even over the objections of her snotty fiance Walker McCormick.

After a confrontation with Bill exposing the truth of the con, Grey lets them stay for as long as they need when she understands the precarious position the homeless pair are in. One night, Bill tells Grey that he is not Sue's father, he met Sue's mother one night in Florida. After Sue's mother died, Bill raised her himself, growing to love her like his own, thus when they lost their home and money, Bill could not find it in his heart to give Sue up and put her into an orphanage, so he took Sue with him.

Grey (thinking Bill has been neglecting and abusing Sue by using her in his cons and scams) suggests Sue stay with her when he leaves, but this only angers Bill, who says that after all the years he looked after her, if he gave up Sue now, people would make fun of her for being on welfare. He tells her that he is not neglecting or abusing Sue; he cares about Sue and his cons are to provide for Sue.

However, when it becomes apparent that Sue is completely unable to read or write (despite spelling a difficult word earlier), Grey begins to push even harder for Bill to leave Sue with her. Eventually, Bill realizes that this is where she belongs: in a home, cared for by someone that can give her the advantages that his homeless, nomadic existence lacks. Walker turns them in and Sue gets put into welfare.

Bill is arrested because he never actually had custody of the child. Eventually, Grey gets Sue out and Bill is freed. Sue and Grey return to their apartment, and discover a tin ring (the one which was stolen earlier) which Sue takes as a sign that Bill chose to leave her behind with Grey. (It is implied that Bill pawned a ring left to Sue by her mother, which he would return to her when it came time for the two to part forever)

However, the ring is accompanied by a note that says that he is in another room. Sue happily turns to find Bill, realizing that the ring is not a sign that he will leave her but a sign that he is going to abandon his old lifestyle in order to give Sue the home she needs and in order to pursue a romance with Grey.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Jim Belushi as Bill Dancer
  • Kelly Lynch as Grey Ellison
  • Alisan Porter as Curly Sue
  • John Getz as Walker McCormick
  • Fred Dalton Thompson as Bernard Oxbar
  • Branscombe Richmond as Albert
  • Gail Boggs as Ansie Hall
  • Viveka Davis as Trina
  • Barbara Tarbuck as Mrs. Arnold
  • John Ashton as Mr. Arnold
  • Cameron Thor as Maitre d'
  • Edie McClurg as Secretary
  • Steve Carell as Tesio
  • Burke Byrnes as Dr. Maxwell

Production[edit | edit source]

This was the only film directed by John Hughes that was distributed by Warner Bros.

Originally, Jim Belushi were offered the role of Bill Dancer, but due to other commitments & projects, they had to decline.

Kevin Spacey was originally cast in the role of Walker McCormick, but due to scheduling conflicts, he had to drop out and John Getz was later chosen for the role.

According to Kelly Lynch, James Belushi & John Hughes didn't get along with each other & they constantly argued. The film's production was shut down for a while because Belushi refused to come to the set.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Box Office[edit | edit source]

"Curly Sue" debuted at #2 at the box office, grossing $4,974,958 during its opening weekend, ranking behind House Party 2.

The domestic gross of the film was $33,691,313.

Critical Reception[edit | edit source]

On Rotten Tomatoes, "Curly Sue" was given a 14% rating based on 14 reviews.

Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars, calling it a "cornball, soupy, syrupy, sentimental exercise in audience manipulation".

The Washington Post's Rita Kempley called it "a new age Little Orphan Annie".

Accolades[edit | edit source]

Young Artist Awards

  • Alisan Porter: Best Young Actress Starring in a Motion Picture (won)

Theatrical Trailer[edit | edit source]


Curly Sue (1991) Trailer

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