The best thing that can be said of "Career Opportunities" is that it's not very long.
Brevity is its only mercy. A slap-- mixture of "Home Alone" and "The Breakfast Club" set in a strip-mall department store as written by John Hughes in what appears to be less than a weekend, the movie proves only that if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, imitating yourself -- as Hughes does here -- represents genuine desperation.
The movie is wretchedly desperate. When it's not full of self-pity, it's full of nonsense. Frank Whaley, not
exactly Mr. Charisma, plays a 21-year-old who can't hold a job and therefore is picked on by his father. He finally lands a position as night cleanup boy at the town department store, only to find himself locked in by the cretinous custodian who ex
pects him to -- eek! -- work.
He runs into another loser kid, who's accidentally -- are we talking lame or what? -- "fallen asleep in the dressing room." Played by the demonstrably beautiful Jennifer Connelly, this young woman is also picked on by her father.
Suddenly, two thieves enter the store and menace them. This is meant to play in the slapstick tradition of "Home Alone," with its many reverses and pratfalls. It was somewhat queasy there and it's terrifically queasy here, particularly as the thugs brandish guns, put the kids in postures of submission and giggle oafishly about killing them. This is funny? Not remotely.
I hate movies that treat guns as jokes. Not only is it unfunny, it's completely irresponsible. Hughes has made millions of bucks; he ought to be above a lame comedy that degrades crime victims and trivializes the trauma of violent attack.
Starring Frank Whaley and Jennifer Connelly.
Directed by Bryan Gordon.
Released by Universal.