Everyone has “their” band…
Now available on Blu-Ray and DVD; Shoplifters of the World is a lovely piece of high school history that we can all relate to as the bands that fill our world are blaring on the radio.
In the Summer of 1987, four friends, reeling from the sudden break-up of the iconic British band The Smiths, embark on a night out of partying to mourn their musical loss. At the same time, an impassioned Smiths fan (Ellar Coltrane) takes a local radio DJ (Joe Manganiello) hostage at gunpoint and forces him to play nothing but Smiths tracks. With the radio station playing as the soundtrack to their night, the friends go on a wild journey of self-discovery that will transform them forever.
While some of you younger folk won’t quite understand the emotional vibrancy of listening to tapes in your friends’ car and having that one band that is your be all and end all…just understand that I quietly weep for you. Shoplifters of the World is an emotional time capsule for anyone born in 1982 or earlier that you just won’t be able to look away from.
Inspired from some true events, co-writer and director Stephen Kijak does a masterful job of putting us into this universally relatable moment with school ending, the yearning to get out of town, get laid and ultimately be true to oneself is splashed all over the screen. Kijak knows the exact mood that he’s trying to create for his audiences, and while it’s been done before it’s rarely been done as honestly as it has in this film.
It’s a true ensemble piece because while the characters are somewhat archetypal, they are ones we have all encountered in our day to day lives. It’s not a film about their individual struggles, because quite frankly those aren’t unique, rather it’s about the unity that they’ve all found and are struggling to hold on to in the wake of The Smiths untimely breakup.
That doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t some exceptional performance in this film from beginning to end.
Helena Howard captures the essence of the era perfectly as our angst filled heroine who’s looking for purpose in her small town existence with Ellar Coltrane right beside her as our lowly record clerk turned hostage taking Smiths fan. They’re both essentially taking the same emotional journey on this film but in two very different and highly entertaining ways. The true heart of the piece however lies with Joe Manganiello’s Hard Rock DJ who on the surface couldn’t be any more different then his captor but as the night rolled on he not only empathized with Coltrane’s character but understood that no matter the music (or anything else for that matter) in the world that divides we can easily come together underneath so many of the ideas that actually unite us. It’s no wonder Manganiello was also an Executive Producer on this one because it might actually be one of the best performances of his entire career.
While the picture and the sound on this Blu-Ray release are obviously top notch, it would have been nice to have more than just a couple of generic behind the scenes look at the making of the film in the special features.
At the end of the day, Shoplifters of the World is about a moment in time. When one world is ending for a group of friends and another is just beginning down an entirely new path. It’s not a story that is trying to be validated or explained, just celebrated because in one way or another we’ve all actually been there.
Shoplifters of the World is on DVD and Blu-Ray now, please click here to enjoy our interview with Stephen Kijak.