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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Amid some iffy behavior, words of wisdom are shared in the form of The Smiths lyrics. Be yourself. Music saves.
Positive Role Models
Morrissey and The Smiths were role models for many teens and young adults in the 1980s for their independent thinking approach to music and musical messages. This is a queer-positive film; young men explore their sexual identity in a supportive environment. Young people demonstrate freedom of self-expression in their wardrobe, hair, and makeup. A young woman expresses her sexual needs, and her longtime boyfriend expresses his desire to abstain from sex. On the other hand, a primary character who threatens a DJ at gunpoint is seen as a hero.
Violence & Scariness
A hostage is threatened at gunpoint. A group of people is physically attacked for being perceived as gay; they're defended by a larger group carrying baseball bats. Shot fired at an object.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Simulated intercourse shown, mostly via a close-up of a woman's face. Kissing/making out. A couple of simulated masturbation scenes, including one that briefly exposes a bare male backside and part of his genitals. Discussions of sex, celibacy. Close-up of an erection inside jeans.
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Extremely strong, frequent language, including "a--hole," "bitch," "dammit," "s--t," "t-ts," and tons of uses of "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
Safeway mentioned repeatedly as a punchline; other brands are also meant to be humorous.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters smoke pot and cigarettes throughout. Underage drinking. A character drives after its implied that she's been drinking. A minor gets alcohol at the liquor store. Discussion about cocaine use. Character is offered drugs at a party. No consequences.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Shoplifters of the World is a dramedy inspired by a fact-based urban legend about The Smiths. It uses interview and concert footage of the British band, and lyrics from their songs and other iconography are incorporated into the script. The culture of the '80s is brought to life through authentic wardrobe, hair, and makeup choices, as well as via mentions of relevant news and pop culture matters. Young men explore their sexual identity in a supportive environment, and young people in general demonstrate freedom of self-expression. Teen characters also drink (and in one instance drive), smoke cigarettes and pot, and reference other drug use. And a fan despondent over The Smiths' breakup holds a local radio DJ hostage at gunpoint, firing the weapon at an object to prove that he means business; he's treated with empathy by the DJ and celebrated as a hero in the filmmakers' eyes. Expect quite a bit of sexual content, including simulated masturbation, with a bit of a man's genitals exposed. There's also a realistic, uninspiring scene involving a sexual hookup. Strong language throughout includes "s--t," "f--k," and more. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Concert documentarian Stephen Kijak switches formats to pay homage to an iconic musical act, but it doesn't feel like he's breaking new ground. Let's look at how it's all been done before: 1) A fictional musical is created by piecing a music act's songs together into a story (Across the Universe, Mamma Mia!); 2) a fictional story is created about an artist's fans that drives them to play their music (Yesterday, Blinded by the Light); or, 3) an act's biography is told through their own music (Rocketman, Bohemian Rhapsody). Shoplifters of the World combines all three of these approaches, albeit with a couple of original twists. Kijak's fictional story is based on real events that supposedly occurred on the day The Smiths announced they were breaking up. So he plays the music of the U.K. band through the eyes of five fans while also inserting Smiths song lyrics into the dialogue and -- yes, there's more -- weaving in interview and concert footage. Kijak's experience in music documentaries suits the project well. While The Smiths were key figures in the musical landscape of the 1980s and did have a passionate fan base, they weren't a hit machine in the United States. Allowing Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr to offer their perpsective thorugh interviews from the era may help some viewers better understand why their music resonated with those who identified as outsiders.
LGBTQ+ teens may also relate to "the boy with the thorn in his side" who's trying to figure out his sexual identity and is fortunate to have friends and a girlfriend who support him. If that's not quite how everyone experienced or remembers the '80s, there's also recognition of the era's toxic masculinity. In fact, the film is a basket of Easter eggs for '80s hounds: The Smiths lore, the range of bands/music tastes, the accurate wardrobe, the authenic hair and makeup. That said, the lingo isn't always spot on -- and The Smiths' poetic lyrics don't necessarily lend themselves to everyday conversation. Shoplifters of the World may not speak to modern teens the way it will to those who were teens in the '80s; you really have to know the music to get the most out of the film. But The Smiths have maintained relevance over the decades, and it's always good for teens to hear that the positivity we put in the world "is a light that never goes out."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.