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Career Opportunities (film)

Career Opportunities is a 1991 American romantic comedy film starring Frank Whaley in his first lead role and co-starring Jennifer Connelly. It was written and co-produced by John Hughes and directed by Bryan Gordon.

Career Opportunities
Film poster
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bryan Gordon
Produced by John Hughes
Hunt Lowry
Written by John Hughes
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Edited by Glenn Farr
Peck Prior
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • March 29, 1991 (1991-03-29)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $11.3 million[1]



Jim Dodge is a self-proclaimed "people person" and dreamer who is perceived as lazy and good for nothing. After being fired from numerous low-paying jobs, Jim is given the choice by his father, Bud Dodge, to either land a job at the local Target or be put on a bus to St. Louis.

Jim is hired as night cleanup boy at Target. On his first shift at his new job, Jim is locked alone in the store by his boss, the head custodian, who leaves him there until his shift ends at 7 am. He encounters Josie McClellan, a stereotypical "spoiled rich girl" whom he has known all his life. Josie had spent the past several hours asleep in a dressing room after backing out of shoplifting some merchandise in a half-hearted attempt to run away from her abusive father, Roger Roy McClellan. Josie and Jim begin to connect with each other, realizing they are not so different. They begin to form a romantic relationship, and proceed to enjoy the freedom of having such a large store to themselves. Josie, having $52,000 in her purse, convinces Jim to run away with her to California as soon as they get out of the store in the morning. Meanwhile, Roger teams up with the town sheriff to search for his runaway daughter all night.

Things become complicated when two incompetent crooks, Nestor Pyle and Gil Kinney, break in and hold the two hostage. Eventually, Josie seduces one of the crooks and convinces him to take her with them after robbing the store. While the criminals are loading stolen merchandise into their car, Josie jumps into the front seat and drives away, leaving the two men stranded in the parking lot. Meanwhile, in the building, Jim loads up a shotgun found in the head custodian's locker and tricks Nestor and Gil by luring them to the back of the store and holding them at gunpoint.

In the morning, the sheriff arrives and stumbles upon the two crooks, having been tied up by Jim. Jim and Josie run away and we see them lounging next to a pool in Los Angeles.



It was the first film directed by Bryan Gordon. John Hughes approached him to direct after having been impressed by Gordon's short film, Ray's Heterosexual Dance Hall, which won the Oscar in 1987 for Best Live Short. "I took it to learn about myself and how to make a movie," said Gordon.[2]

Frank Whaley said his character was "a little akin to Ferris Bueller."[3]

Filming took place at a Target store in Monroe, Georgia. They could only shoot at night time "which does something to your psyche" said Whaley.[4]

Whaley went to the location with the director before shooting and "looked for bits. So all those little montages, that was stuff that we came up with." He says he and Connelly "got along really well and, people remember certain shots from that movie."[4]


Box officeEdit

Career Opportunities was a modest success at the time of its release. It was number four at the box office its first week and made $11,336,986 in the North American market.[1]

Critical responseEdit

A trailer used to advertise the film featured Connelly on a riding horse. "That wasn't something I felt all that comfortable about," Connelly said later.[5] Rolling Stone later wondered if the filmmakers "perhaps realizing they had a complete dog of a movie on their hands, attempted to hard-sell the dubious teen flick as some sort of cleavage fanatic's wet dream."[5]

Hughes said the film was "a disappointment" because "I didn't have my usual creative controls."[6] Hughes later claimed the film was "cheap and vulgar" and that his suggestions were ignored. He says he tried to take his name off the film but Universal refused in the wake of the success of Home Alone. "Suddenly I'm a commodity," he said. "If Home Alone hadn't come out my name wouldn't be on Career Opportunities four times."[7]

"The movie kind of tanked," said Whaley. He added:

I think if they made that movie today it would be kind of cool, but it just lacked a little bit of the irreverence of other movies written by John Hughes. The soundtrack was certainly classic John Hughes fare. I mean, I happen to think it’s kind of a cool movie. I think it’s different than his other movies, and I think that casting me was a daring move. [Laughs.] Because I didn’t sort of fit into that mold. I played it a little bit different. I was just… slightly off. And I think that might’ve been part of the demise of the whole thing.[4]

Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively gives the film a score of 38% based on reviews from 16 critics, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 10.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Career Opportunities (1991)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved December 6, 2011. 
  2. ^ Handling the Pressure Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]18 Nov 1990: T32
  3. ^ Whaley Had Long Apprenticeship Before 'Opportunities' Knocked Mills, Bart. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]06 Apr 1991: F2.
  4. ^ a b c Harris, Will (9 April 2015). "Frank Whaley on acting, directing and getting yelled at by Samuel L Jackson and Oliver Stone". The Onion. 
  5. ^ a b Wild, David (8 August 1991). "Jennifer Connelly: Love and Rockets". Rolling Stone. 
  6. ^ About 'Home Alone'--the Sequel Fox, David J. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]07 Apr 1991: G22
  7. ^ HIM ALONE: John Hughes, prolific auteur of the under-aged, is a veritable studio unto himself. What's he so grumpy about? Maybe it's all those kids. HUGHES BY BILL CARTER. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]04 Aug 1991: SM30
  8. ^ "Career Opportunities". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2018-05-07. 

External linksEdit