Soundtracks I Have Loved: Career Opportunities

Soundtrack: Career Opportunities
Year Released: 1991
I Bought It On: Cassette
Do I Still Own It?: Absolutely.

Track List:

1. Roy - Tom Newman
2. King Kong Five - Mano Negra
3. I Wanna Stay Home - Jellyfish
4. Tiny Little Heart Attack - Money Talks
5. Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World - Johnny Clegg
6. Criminal Bop - Tom Newman
7. Better World - Rebel MC
8. Go! (Club Mix) - Tones on Tail
9. Don't Quit - Caron Wheeler
10. Little Pony - Tom Newman

When people speak of John Hughes, they almost always focus on the Holy Hughes Trinity: The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Sixteen Candles. I have nothing against any of those movies, and they are probably the most culturally important in the Hughes ouevre, but who will speak for the other Hughes movies, the ones that get a line or two in a Hughes biography? Who will expound upon the Holy Candy/Hughes Trinity (Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, The Great Outdoors, and Uncle Buck)? Who will laud the entries in the Hughes canon that don't focus on Molly Ringwald getting some?

I will. And Xmastime will help and be the go-to expert on the Dutch front. Neither of us will likely discuss Curly Sue.

Of course, this is a Soundtracks I Have Loved(tm) post, so I will use the soundtrack as my entry point. And, yes, I do have the soundtrack to Career Opportunities, a movie that IMDB says pulled in a whopping $11 million at the box office. If the fact that I own this soundtrack surprises you, I guess you're a new reader. Welcome! And let me point out that not only do I have the soundtrack on cassette, but I also have the VHS signed by Frank Whaley and Jennifer Connelly (I have the movie poster somewhere, too).

Oh yeah! Who's the man? What? Not me? Oh, OK, fair enough. Let's get back to the soundtrack.

I believe it took me awhile to find the soundtrack, and it was probably one of the last cassettes I bought (you can buy a new CD copy on Amazon for $75.68 if you're so inclined). So I got it well after seeing the movie, the tale of a directionless dreamer and frequent liar named Jim Dodge (Frank Whaley) who gets a job as the night janitor at Target, where he finds his unrequited crush Josie (Jennifer Connelly, probably at the peak of her hotness), who was contemplating shoplifting as an act of rebellion against her wealthy, unloving dad. Later, they run into a pair of thieves, expertly played by the fabulous Mulroney brothers, Dermot and Kieran, who, in addition to being fine actors (Dermot is the finer of the two, particularly in this movie, where he plays creepy almost too well) are also members of the underappreciated Low and Sweet Orchestra. SPOILER ALERT: The thieves are outwitted, and Jim and Josie ride off into the sunset. Sorry to ruin that for you. And, no, this probably isn't one Hughes bragged about to friends, but, dammit, I love it, and this is my blog. So deal with it.

I am a sucker for any movie or TV show set in a mall or department store (favorite Kevin Smith movie: Mallrats; favorite Saved by the Bell story arc: the episodes where Zack gets the hots for a homeless chick who works in the mall), so this movie was right in my wheelhouse. And I'd never actually seen a Target when the movie was released, which added to my excitement. Sure, it looked a lot like Caldor or Ames or Jamesway, but it wasn't. It was a Target, a store I had only heard mention of. How cool. It was like what I imagine a normal person experiences when they watch a movie set in some unbelievably exotic tropical locale. I am not a normal person, as you should have surmised by now.

Anyway, with the setting already luring me in and John Hughes at the helm, I really didn't need to know anything more about the movie. Of course, there was also Jennifer Connelly enticing me, plus the trailer promised an appearance from John Candy. This was a can't-miss.

By the way, "She Drives Me Crazy" isn't on the soundtrack. In fact, unless you've seen the movie, there's a better-than-average chance that no song you've ever heard is on the soundtrack. I certainly never heard of any of the songs, or any of the musicians, before I saw the movie. In fact, the movie's full of songs I would almost certainly never listen to on their own but I needed to own on a soundtrack. Such is the mark of an excellent soundtrack.

Unfortunately, with all the good songs in the movie, the decision was made to kick things off with the exciting Tom Newman instrumental "Roy," which I guess is background music for a scene with Josie's dad, since that's the only guy I recall named Roy in the movie. And the soundtrack comes to an equally thrilling conclusion with another hot Newman jam, "Little Pony," which I guess was written for the movie's most popular scene among horny dudes, a scene that I'm sure you can find on the Internet by Googling "Jennifer Connelly riding a horse" or some such variation.

The rest of the soundtrack is better, though (save for one more Tom Newman instrumental, "Criminal Bop"....sorry, dude--not a fan). The best of the lot is probably Johnny Clegg's "Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World," which sounds like it could only be included on a soundtrack to a comedy that I like.

Then, there's Mano Negra's "King Kong Five," which I would almost certainly hate if it hadn't been in this movie. It's barely two minutes long and I'm having trouble making it all the way through the YouTube video. It's catchy, though. As is Tones on Tail's "Go (Club Mix)," which you might have heard elsewhere.

And a good soundtrack could always use a touching slow jam. That role is filled with what's probably the most legitimately good track, Caron Wheeler's "Don't Quit," which Jim and Josie slow dance to in Target, finishing the dance they once had at a school function and finally kissing. And if there's anything I would've enjoyed more in 1991 than kissing Jennifer Connelly in a department store I'd never been to before, I can't think of it right now (I would also not mind doing this in 2010).

As much as I enjoy the soundtrack, though, I'm curious why one song from the movie didn't make it to the album. It's in a big scene in the movie, and it's another song I would probably run from if I heard it on the radio. But I love it in the movie. Or maybe I just love Jennifer Connelly roller skating in a tank top. Hard to say.

Could Curb Records not afford Betty Boo's fee? Was she squeezed out by the three Tom Newman joints? Did John Hughes not want it on there?

Maybe I'll find out when someone writes the 1,500-page John Hughes biography that features a solid chapter on Career Opportunities.

I'll be waiting.

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