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Stephen Kijak
Helena Howard, Ellar Coltrane, Elena Kampouris
Stephen Kijak

One crazy night in the life of four friends reeling from the sudden demise of iconic British band The Smiths.
Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $28.96
Release Date: 6/1/2021

• “Story & Inspiration” Featurette
• “Look & Feel” Featurette


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Shoplifters of the World [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 23, 2021)

With 2021’s Shoplifters of the World, we head back to the 80s – 1987, to be specific. There we meet a group of friends who work through a mix of events.

On this particular day, they learn news that devastates them: their favorite band the Smiths breaks up. In addition, Billy (Nick Krause) enjoys only one more day of freedom before he enters the military.

Determined to send off Billy in style, the pals set out to enjoy a last evening of shenanigans. This leads them on a mix of adventures.

That “one wild night” framework won’t exactly count as fresh. Umpteen movies have used it, so World needs to find a fresh way to spin the concept.

The connection to the Smiths adds a twist. Actually, the focus on that band made me think World would take place in the UK, since the Smiths enjoyed enormous success there but barely made a commercial dent in the States.

Instead, we find World set in Colorado. Why? Because in the 80s, a teen tried to take over a Denver radio station, and that becomes a plot point here. Indeed, the movie’s prologue refers to it as “based on true intentions”.

The radio station narrative seems fairly irrelevant to the overall narrative. While it offers a quirky twist, the friends’ journey feels like enough to carry the story.

Now that I see the movie, I understand the plot need to tell the tale in Denver vs. the UK, though. The setting allows for the characters to exist as outsiders, and that would seem more difficult to do if the film occupied a country where the Smiths dominated the charts.

I get the feeling the entire Smiths orientation exists more as an excuse to play the band’s songs, though. Beyond the “radio station takeover” motif, this doesn’t feel especially organic.

Indeed, World often feels more like a long promo reel for the Smiths than a character-based tale. Writer/director Stephen Kijak intersperses clips of the band and other elements, all because… I don’t know.

Kijak did a bunch of music documentaries like Stones in Exile, and World seems more comfortable in that domain. Kijak certainly doesn’t appear to know how to create a compelling character-based “coming of age” tale.

Apparently World took nearly a decade to finally come out. Kijak’s script languished through various cast changes until it finally shot in fall 2018.

Why did World sit on shelves for two and a half years post-filming? I have no idea, just as I don’t know why the movie required so much time to finally go in front of the cameras.

Perhaps those involved hoped Kijak would tighten up the script and make it more than a weird mix of music video and character drama. Unfortunately, the end result never gets there, as it packs nothing more than genre clichés.

Maybe Kijak couldn’t get approval from the Smiths to use the music, which would seem odd because World feels like one long ad for their catalog. As implied, the movie doesn’t specifically need the Smiths beyond the semi-superfluous radio station thread, so the project seems like a promotional effort to sell Smiths albums.

God knows the characters never vaguely turn into anything interesting. We get one-dimensional roles who mope about how “different” they are and whine about the conformist world.

Yawn. Not that kids don’t go through those phases, but as I noted earlier, World needs something different to allow it to give the overdone genre its own twist.

World plays like a middle-aged man’s attempts to recapture the spirit of youth. Kijak fails miserably in that effort.

Beyond all those Smiths tunes, though, World doesn’t find it. Trite, stale and uninspired, the movie fails to find anything new to say, and it lacks the depth necessary to overcome its cliché nature.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Shoplifters of the World appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a positive image.

Sharpness was positive. Only minor softness impacted the presentation during some interiors, so the movie remained tight and well-defined most of the time.

I noticed no issues with shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws also failed to mar the presentation.

World went with a teal-influenced palette that sprinkled in a fair amount of amber/orange as well. Within the movie’s color design, the tones seemed solid.

Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows demonstrated nice smoothness. This was a consistently satisfying image.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix of World, it showed scope generally typical of the drama/comedy soundfield. This meant the material allowed it to open up in a satisfying manner when necessary

Musical segments added immersiveness, and parties/clubs added breadth. The mix used the music in a broad, engaging manner, and the whole package fit together smoothly. Most of the movie concentrated on dialogue and music.

Audio quality seemed good. Speech was distinctive and natural, without edginess or other issues.

Music seemed warm and lush, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy. Bass responses delivered great punch. The mix suited the story and kicked into gear when necessary.

Two featurettes appear, and Story and Inspiration runs six minutes, one second. It offers notes from writer/director Stephen Kijak, producers Laura Rister and Nick Mangianello, and actors Joe Mangianello, Nick Krause, Elena Kampouris, James Bloor, Ellar Coltrane and Helena Howard.

Here we learn about the project’s development as well as influences and narrative elements. A few nuggets emerge but much of “Inspiration” feels superficial.

Look and Feel spans five minutes, 58 seconds and includes comments from Kijak, Joe Manganiello, Rister, director of photography Andrew Wheeler, makeup department head Daedra Kaehler, costume designer Gina Ruiz, casting director Danielle Aufiero and hair department head Lorraine Altamura.

As implied by the title, “Look” covers the movie’s stylistic choices and attempts to recreate the period setting. Once again, we get a mix of insights and happy talk.

As a mix of “coming of age” and “one wild night” genres, Shoplifters of the World feels like the worst of both. It manages nothing new or creative and often just feels like an attempt to sell Smiths albums. The Blu-ray comes with positive picture and audio but it skimps on bonus materials. This winds up as a limp character tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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