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Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now: Shoplifters of the World (2021) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 241 days ago on Entertainment - Stop me if you think you've heard this one before..... This spring’s release of Shoplifters Of The World drops on streaming this weekend after several delays amid a global pandemic that’s seen the indie film world struggle to cope. This tongue in cheek copycat of Airheads (1994) is a disappointing effort that won’t even satisfy die hard Smiths fans like myself. Instead, the movie is a ninety minute affair in the purest of annoyances. The dialogue is not natural and stilted. Characters are one sided caricatures of routinely standard ‘80s tropes, personal sexuality is assaulted by terrible cliches and branding, all the while attempting to cash in on current retro trends.Paired with awful acting and writing all around, the only saving grace is the soundtrack by The Smiths, which Morrissey actually (surprisingly) signed off on. That is the only true accomplishment here. The singer is known for not allowing officially licensed projects like this to happen in the past. For some strange reason he signed off in this which was another bad calculation on his part. The long gestating project which sees a young man hijack a radio station at gunpoint is a total misfire that’s too short and corrodes the mythology behind one of Manchester’s greatest musical efforts. The songs may feel like home to many of us, but director Stephen Kijack turns them into an angst filled backdrop that far exceeds his story or characters. Their musical catalog is a reference laden tribute in this film that totally transcends the problematic script. And that is both the absolute failure and mild success here. The legacy behind the band deserves much better than being a hyper edit of teenage melodrama intercut with their musical catalog and interview material from decades ago. However, it is cool finally hearing the music used for an entire ninety minutes. When characters begin quoting lyrics in general conversation it’s eye roll inducing. Considering the content of Morrissey’s poetic lyrics and delivery, there should be a movie that captures the essence of his writing. See Julie Taymor’s Across The Universe for a point of creative reference, a film which tells a romantic tale using the songs of the Beatles. Sadly for the captive viewers involved here, Kijack has no artistic vision whatsoever and his final product is an absolute bore that just can’t get out of its own way. Kijack tries so hard for an ‘80s alternative rock merit badge that he ultimately falls flat on his face. The film picks up in 1987 after The Smiths break up in close proximity to the release of their final studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come. A group of late teenage friends in Colorado mourn the loss of their favorite band as they spend one final night together. One of their clique members, a record store employee, holds a metalhead radio DJ at gunpoint so they can listen to The Smiths over the airwaves one final time. The plot steals its entire story from several movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s while it devolves The Smiths artistic message to nothing but a series of scenes that completely miss the mark. For some reason, film makers are struggling to find a balance when translating Morrissey or the band to the screen. Both this and the unauthorized biography, England is Mine have failed their subject matter, aggressively. If you must watch, please go in with a clear mindset that you may want to turn this off halfway through. Personally, I barely survived this ordeal with my soul intact. They tried. They failed. -CG

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