It can sometimes be said that charm, when used by a child is all the arsenal that is needed.
In the 1991 movie, Curly Sue, Bill Dancer (James Belushi) is a homeless man with a good heart who runs a con game with a most charming and adorable companion: Curly Sue (Alisan Porter).
Their latest target is Grey Ellison (Kelly Lynch). Bill convinces Grey that she has run over him with her car. Racked by guilt, Grey invites Bill and Curly Sue into her home for the night. Seeing the girl in a fatherly light, Bill decides to leave his young companion with Grey in hopes of securing Curly Sue’s future with a loving and supportive home. But Curly Sue is one smart little girl and has other plans in mind.
I have vague memories of this film as a child. There is a charm to this film that makes it stand out. The characters could have easily been written as one-dimensional stereotypes. But writer/director John Hughes, being one of the great writer/directors of the past forty years, understands how to write a compelling plot and create entertaining characters.
And if writing this post was not enough to make me feel old, Alisan Porter auditioned for a spot on The Voice. Who knew the little girl who played Curly Sue 25 years ago could sing like that?
There is something about being a teenager that is immortal. The hormones, the questions, the sometimes difficult social hierarchy that is high school.
In the 1980’s John Hughes immortalized the teenage experience in Sixteen Candles (1984) and The Breakfast Club (1985).
In Sixteen Candles, Samantha (Molly Ringwald) is having what must seem like the worst sixteenth birthday in the history of world. Her sister’s wedding is coming up quick (meaning that her birthday has been completely forgotten about by her family), the boy she likes doesn’t know she exists and the biggest nerd in school is quite open that has a crush on her. Add into this achingly horrible day is her grandparents who seem to have a sadistic interest in embarrassing her and a foreign exchange student, Long Duc Dong and we have what may be the craziest start to adulthood ever.
Other than the very awkward stereotype of Asians represented by the character of Long Duc Dong, this movie is excellent. The chaos that this one girl goes through on her sixteenth birthday is so representative of the chaos she will ultimately experience as an adult.
A year later, The Breakfast Club premiered.
They were five students with nothing in common, except for the fact that they are spending their Saturday in school and in detention. They were described by different labels. The Brain (Anthony Michael Hall), The Athlete (Emilio Estevez), The Basket Case (Ally Sheedy), The Princess (Molly Ringwald) and The Criminal (Judd Nelson). What they will discover over the course of the day is that they have more in common than they would ever have imagined.
What I like about this movie, is that it shows that once we get past the labels and the fronts that many of us put up, we have more in common than we think.
I recommend both.