American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
“Curly Sue” is a cornball, soupy, syrupy, sentimental exercise in audience manipulation, but that's the good news, because this is a movie that works. I don't know how and I don't know why, but somehow the film got around my guard, overcame my cynicism, and left me sitting there with a grin on my face.
The movie is a fantasy from beginning to end. It was filmed in the real world, but could not possibly have taken place there. No matter. It exists on its own terms, without apologies. It stars James Belushi as a down-and-out drifter who travels the highways of America with a pint-sized con-woman named Curly Sue (Alisan Porter). Pulling cons to get money for food, they stage an “accident” in which Belushi is apparently hit by a car driven by a cynical, hard-driving Chicago lawyer (Kelly Lynch).
She buys them dinner before being dragged away by her drippy boyfriend (John Getz), but the next day, after she really hits Belushi with her car, she invites them home. That's partly because she hasn't been able to get Curly Sue's winsome little face out of her mind. And then you can more or less guess what happens, as she falls in love with the tyke, finds herself attracted to Belushi, and eventually goes through a complete change of heart.
This is a story that could have been written by Damon Runyon, illustrated by Norman Rockwell, and filmed by Frank Capra.