Shoplifters of the World

Shoplifters of the World is a 2021 American independent comedy-drama film written and directed by Stephen Kijak. It stars Helena Howard, Ellar Coltrane, Elena Kampouris, Nick Krause, James Bloor, Thomas Lennon and Joe Manganiello.

Shoplifters of the World
Shoplifters of the world.jpg
Official poster
Directed byStephen Kijak
Screenplay byStephen Kijak
Story byLorianne Hall
Produced by
CinematographyAndrew Wheeler
Edited by
  • Fabienne Bouville
  • Yaniv Dabach
Music byRael Jones
  • Piccadilly Pictures
  • Sun Capital
  • 3:59
  • Untitled Entertainment
  • Oscura Film
Distributed byRLJE Films
Release date
  • March 26, 2021 (2021-03-26)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film was released on March 26, 2021 by RLJE Films.


In Denver, four friends reel from the sudden break up of the Smiths, while the local radio station is held at gunpoint by a fan who forces a disgruntled heavy-metal DJ to play music by the Smiths all night.

The plot is loosely based on an actual incident that occurred in 1988 when an 18-year-old attempted to commandeer Denver Top 40 station Y108.[1]



In February 2012, it was announced that Jessica Brown Findlay, James Frecheville, Jeremy Allen White, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Skylar Astin and Zosia Mamet had joined the cast of the film, with Stephen Kijak directing from a screenplay that had written.[2] In March 2014, Joe Manganiello joined the cast,[3] and in September 2016, it was announced that Sasha Lane, Isabelle Fuhrman, Ellar Coltrane and Nick Krause had also joined, with Findlay, Frecheville, White, Sangster, Astin and Mamet no longer attached.[4] In February 2019, it was announced that Helena Howard, Elena Kampouris and Nick Krause had joined the cast.[5]

Principal photography began in October 2018 in the region of Albany, New York, mostly in the towns of Troy and Colonie.[6][7]


In September 2020, RLJE Films acquired distribution rights to the film.[8] It was released on March 26, 2021.[9]


Critical receptionEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 45% approval rating based on 44 reviews, with an average rating of 5.40/10.[10] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 50 out of 100, based on seven critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[11]

Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times wrote that the film was " a loving gift to superfans of the English band The Smiths...this sweetly nostalgic look at lost boys and lonely girls feels like it comes straight from the heart."[12] Armond White's review in National Review stated: "This is an alternative-rock version of American Graffiti...(the) music’s dramatic resonances are, moment to moment, breathtaking";[13] he also wrote: "If The Smiths were the greatest group of the Eighties, this film about American teens’ heartfelt response, reveals the most intense longing for personal expression in the history of popular culture. Stephen Kijak creates one poignant, exultant scene after another."[14] Ken Scrudato of BlackBook wrote: "The film is haunted by a kind of inescapable, mournful nostalgia, as it piercingly reminds of the irreversible demise of the sort of weirdo tribalism that once so intensely bound together all those living just beyond the fringes of societal acceptance – a tribalism that has been replaced by the Instagramming of pancakes and the soulless obsession with 60-second TikTok videos about absolutely nothing...these were indeed the songs that saved your life – and Shoplifters of the World rightly and properly celebrates them."[15]

Reaction from MorrisseyEdit

The Smiths' lead singer Morrissey voiced his approval of the film, stating on his website: "I laughed, I cried, I ate my own head. The Smiths' past still sounds like today's frustrations and tomorrow's liberations."[16][17]


  1. ^ Wenzel, John (March 29, 2021). "Denver-set movie 'Shoplifters of the World' based on real-life Morrissey, The Smiths lore". The Denver Post. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  2. ^ Brooks, Brian (February 10, 2012). "Ensemble Cast Joins Smiths Comedy 'Shoplifters Of The World'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  3. ^ Radish, Christina (March 29, 2014). "Joe Manganiello Talks SABOTAGE, Working With Arnold Schwarzenegger, the End of TRUE BLOOD, MAGIC MIKE 2, and More". Collider. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  4. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (September 14, 2016). "'American Honey' Breakout Sasha Lane to Star in 'Shoplifters of the World' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  5. ^ Barraclough, Leo (February 8, 2019). "First Look at The Smiths-Infused Comedy-Drama 'Shoplifters of the World' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  6. ^ Masters, Emily (October 30, 2018). "Movie about The Smiths filming in Capital Region". The Albany Times Union. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  7. ^ Roberts, Daniel (March 5, 2021). "Filmed in the Capital Region, trailer for Smiths movie is released". Times Union. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  8. ^ Ravindran, Manori (September 14, 2020). "The Smiths Drama 'Shoplifters of the World' Scores U.S. Deal With RLJE Films (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  9. ^ "All the movies you'll want to stream in 2021 (including 'The Woman in the Window')". USA Today. January 8, 2021. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  10. ^ "Shoplifters of the World (2021)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  11. ^ "Shoplifters of the World". Metacritic. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  12. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (March 25, 2021). "'Shoplifters of the World' Review: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  13. ^ "Shoplifters of the World — Teenage Rebellion, in a Generous Light". National Review. March 26, 2021. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  14. ^ "Best Films of 2021 So Far: Midyear Reckoning". National Review. July 9, 2021. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  15. ^ "New Film 'Shoplifters of the World' is a Poignant Love Letter to The Smiths". BlackBook. March 22, 2021. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  16. ^ "Morrissey gives approval to controversial Smiths film 'Shoplifters of the World': "I laughed, I cried, I ate my own head"". NME. April 9, 2021.
  17. ^

External linksEdit