Fans of 90’s teen comedies will celebrate the arrival of Career Opportunities on Blu-ray. When two dreamers (Jennifer Connelly and Frank Whaley) are stuck inside a Target their differences slowly melt away to reveal their true selves yearning to escape their small town. Known for Connelly’s alluring performance and revealing costuming, the film is a disjointed mix of dropped plot lines that is saved by a cast of amazing character actors. Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray provides a satisfying A/V package with an excellent commentary track. Recommended.
“I don’t care about your Del Taco experiences.”
Jim Dodge (Frank Whaley) is a wise-cracking dreamer fresh out of high school that still lives with his parents. Unable to hold a job his frustrated parents just want him to move on with his life and get his head out of the clouds. The only people Jim can impress are three kids who eat up his stories about big business deals, dinners with the Princess of Austria and flying in his F-14. After losing yet another job his father presents him with an ultimatum: work at Target or move to St. Louis to work for his uncle. At Target he is hired as the night clean-up boy thanks to a hilarious cameo from John Candy as the store manager.
Cue a series of montages showing Jim bouncing around the store playing golf, banging on a drum set, and watching movies. While skating through the lingerie section wearing cow print shorts and a bridal veil he sees his dream girl Josie McClellan (Jennifer Connelly). Josie’s overbearing father and enormous family wealth have put her in a safe yet boring position in life. Feeling trapped she thinks about shoplifting at Target just to get caught but chickens out and hides in the dressing rooms until the store closes. After an awkward dinner coupled with a heart-to-heart chat, Josie unloads her identity crisis on Jim. Both are unwillingly stuck in their lives and through this realization, they find some common ground. Their plan? Leave town together with the convenient $52,000 Josie has stuffed into her purse. Not in their plan are the two bumbling bandits breaking into the store.
In an oddly satisfying turn, real-life brothers Dermot and Kieran Mulroney play the drifter thieves. Extra points to Dermot for his fingerless gloves, side chops, and greasy hair. Josie hatches a plan which ultimately provides us with the famous scene of her riding the mechanical horse as she seduces the aimless bandits. Written by John Hughes after the success of Home Alone the robbers here only serve as a cash-in and do little to serve the story. Though they allow Josie an opportunity to test her trustworthiness to Jim, their inclusion sadly falls short. This is but one example of where the movie suffers from too many storylines and not enough connective tissue. Multiple subplots are left hanging including Josie’s abusive father, the high expectations of Jim’s parents, and the development of Jim and Josie’s relationship.
Performances in Career Opportunities are all over the place. Frank Whaley’s Jim is working that sweet Ferris Bueller attitude but sadly missing the same charm and likeability. Thankfully Jim’s character arc in the film goes from unlikeable to mostly likable. Jennifer Connelly approaches every scene with cold precision and delivery paired with an icy stare. I can see that her motivation is that Josie’s hardened outer shell is a defense mechanism that slowly breaks down as she reveals her true self to Jim. She is good here but sadly the performance is mostly remembered for the revealing costume. Supporting performances from William Forsyth, Barry Corbin, Noble Willingham, and John M. Jackson are spot on. It’s a shame most of their scenes were either cut short or their storylines dropped mid-film.
For me, the highlight of the film is William Forsyth. Billed as “Custodian” he embodies the true essence of a grizzled retail worker unwillingly tasked with training the new kid. Sporting a ring of keys on his belt and a shotgun in his office he utters my favorite line of the film with his instructions for Jim to “clean my coffee maker and wax my desk!”
Inside this disjointed retail love story is a strand of John Hughes DNA but the outer shell is this teen sex comedy that undermines the emotional stakes and characters with guitar riffs and long shots of Jennifer Connelly’s body. Like Josie and Jim, Career Opportunities suffers from an identity crisis. This film just doesn’t know what it wants to be and that is incredibly frustrating. Coming of age story? Slapstick comedy? Sleazy romp? Sadly, the joy of watching this film lies within those who are in full nostalgia mode.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Career Opportunities finds its way to Region A Blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber. Housed in a typical keepcase the disc loads to a static Main Menu screen with a giant image of Jennifer Connelly, typical navigation options, and Tiny Little Heart Attack from Money Talks playing.
Career Opportunities arrives on Blu-ray with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p. HD image features primaries that pop. Josie’s piercing blue trench coat and Jimmy’s red Target jumpsuit stand out with bright colors. Skin tones appear a bit too pink even though red tinting appears at times making our lead actors appear to have missed a sunscreen application. Contrast levels higher than expected as well. Black levels are solid throughout the feature. Fine detail is apparent though an inconsistent softness permeates the image when in motion. While the presentation is an obvious uptick from previous home video releases there is still room for improvement. Inconsistent grain levels, specks, and occasional smoothing rob the presentation of clarity and texture.
The DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track on Career Opportunities is bright and punchy but lacking a bit of support. Dialogue is clear and clean without hiss or pop detected. The music tracks burst through the sound mix transporting you back to the early 90’s with songs from Tom Newman and Money Talks. I would keep the volume level up as some dialogue exchanges are softer than expected. Overall a competent audio mix that gets the job done.
Not much here for special features save for a commentary track and some trailers.
Filled with a talented cast and beating with the heart of a John Hughes script, Career Opportunities remains an enjoyable watch now 30 years later. While too much of the film feels disjointed and unfocused there are enough touching moments to keep you engaged. Unfortunately this one fell victim to post-Home Alone syndrome.
Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray offers a satisfying A/V package that is a step up from previous home video releases. The lack of bonus features is disappointing but the commentary track is well worth your time. For fans of the film this Blu-ray comes Recommended.