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Film / Career Opportunities

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Career Opportunities is a 1991 romantic comedy. Written and produced by John Hughes, the film was directed by Bryan Gordon in his feature film debut. It stars Frank Whaley and Jennifer Connelly, with co-stars including Dermot Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney, John M. Jackson, Noble Willingham, Jenny O'Hara, Barry Corbin, and William Forsythe.

Jim Dodge, a persuasive but irresponsible kid, lands a job as an overnight janitor at a local Target store. One evening after hours, he finds himself stuck inside the store, cleaning up, and bumping into affluent but mistreated Josie McClellan, a childhood crush. The pair get to know each other all night, with their night capping off with two robbers looking to rob the Target and the both of them still stuck inside.

This film provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • Josie's father and the town sheriff spend several scenes looking for Josie. Other than a scene where Jim covers for her, this never affects the plot.
    • Several scenes are spent on Jim's father eating a progressively outlandish Midnight Snack, which never amounts to anything.
  • Abusive Parent: Josie's father occasionally beats her.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Josie's father introduces her to two of the governor's stooges, she walks up and passionately kisses the first man. When the second man introduces himself and puckers up... she shakes his hand.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: Nestor the crook sports a cartoonish one to make him look villainous and stupid.
  • Blatant Lies: Jim is a young loser who can't keep a job down, but he holds court with several local kids, making all sorts of outrageous claims.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Jim fires about a dozen shots in quick succession from a double-barreled shotgun.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Jim gives a detailed account of dancing with Josie for the better part of a song in high school, ending with her getting her hair caught in his braces, but she doesn't remember anything of the interaction.
  • The Cameo: Per the norm with a Hughes film, this film has an uncredited cameo from Hughes regular John Candy, playing C.D. Marsh, the manager of the Target store.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The custodian's shotgun comes back into play at the end when Jim finally turns the tables on the criminals.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The two crooks from the paper Jim reads from in the first scene show up in the third act.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Jim constantly lies. He uses this skill to convince the two crooks that he's working with law enforcement. However, Jim is also susceptible to lies.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Dodge and McClellan families are pretty dysfunctional, to say the least. Jim and his sister bicker, though his parents do support him. However, Josie and her father argue the bulk of the time they have together.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Jim is introduced making outlandish claims to a bunch of loose dogs at a kennel, only for the owner to burst in and fire him, establishing him as a self-aggrandizing loser.
    • Josie's first character-establishing scene has her try to sneak away from her father, only for him to call her over to show her off to two political stooges. She turns the tables by passionately kissing one of them, establishing herself as a willful and attractive young woman who bristles under the thumb of her powerful father.
  • Expy: Whaley has said Jim was "a little akin to Ferris Bueller." This is true in his opening scene, right down to him Breaking the Fourth Wall at the start, only for the viewers to see he was talking to dogs.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Most men's reactions to Josie.
  • Jerk Jock: Jim's principal recollections of high school are of receiving wedgies from guys like this.
  • Midnight Snack: For no particular reason, we follow Jim's father through several scenes of him eating a huge late-night snack, including cold chicken dipped in peanut butter. We see him toward morning at a diner suffering from indigestion.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Throughout the movie, Jennifer Connelly walks around in skin-tight clothing and a white tank top.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The custodian locks Jim in the Target. When Jim asks what will happen if there's a fire, the custodian just says that firemen will put it out.
  • Product Placement: This could be the poster child for this trope. The film is set primarily in a Target department store, with store logos and copious amounts of products visible in virtually every scene. And several sequences basically add up to saying, "Look at all the cool stuff you can do in our stores, including romancing Jennifer Connelly."
  • Recycled Premise: John Hughes basically mashes three of his previous movies together to form this one:
    • Home Alone: A youth makes a playground of a place when left alone and then must face two Stupid Crooks.
    • The Breakfast Club: Youths from different walks of life are trapped in a location and use their time together to goof around and form a mutual understanding.
    • Ferris Bueller's Day Off: A brash and irresponsible youth spins tall tales and talks to the camera.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: The custodian points a shotgun at Jim during their first meeting to show him who's boss.
  • The Slacker: Jim pretty much is one at the start of the film, who doesn't care much about what type of job he has. Even when he's fired from his job at the start of the movie, he doesn't care much about finding another one. Only when his father gets him an interview at Target does he land the position of an overnight janitor.
  • Stupid Crooks: Let's just say that Nestor and Gil, the two robbers, aren't the brightest bulbs in the bunch.