Despite the (vulgar) picture the film's trailer paints, Shoplifters of the World is only kinda about a kid who, in 1987, upon learning that The Smiths had broken up, forces the DJ at the local hard rock radio station, at gunpoint, into an impromptu Smiths marathon. The incident, which may or may not have actually happened in Denver (the film says "based on true intentions"), serves as the backdrop for this "night in the life" snapshot of a group of friends and Smiths fans that is in the tradition of Dazed & Confused, American Graffiti, 200 Cigarettes, or Empire Records. It's not as good as any of those movies, but Shoplifters of the World is also not as bad as you might expect. It's actually rather sweet at times, with uniformly good performances by the main cast, and writer/directed Stephen Kijak hits some right notes when he's not hitting us over the head with Moz lyrical references.
Helena Howard plays Cleo, the most Smiths-obsessed of her group who is hit hard when she learns that her favorite band in the world has broken up. She heads to the local indie record store to commiserate with clerk, Dean (Ellar Coltrane), who has a thing for her and lets her steal tapes. (That she's a shoplifter is one of many, many Smiths wink-winkers in this film; here's another, her best friend is named Sheila.) When he tells her that he has an idea to make the world listen to the Smiths, Cleo says "impress me." With that, Dean heads to the local hard rock radio station armed with all the Smiths records he can carry, as well as the store's revolver to make a Grand Romantic Gesture. The DJ, Full Metal Mickey* (played with a lot of charm by Joe Manganiello) agrees under protest to The Smiths marathon and turns a sympathetic ear toward Dean and his romantic woes. Will this night open the DJ's eyes to the genius of Morrissey and Marr?