It’s kind of hard not to love Joe Manganiello. Here's a handsome, strapping sonofabitch who could've easily been typecast, pigeonholed, and eaten up by the Hollywood machine. But from the Magic Mike franchise to the new Pee-Wee Herman movie, the man’s got a real knack for picking projects that suggest HE – not his agents, not the industry – is driving the Manganiello bus.
And today Maganiello has my heart with the announcement that he’s starring in and producing a film called Shoplifters of the World, about a true event (that kind of didn’t actually happen) from the ‘80s in which a man held a Denver radio station hostage and forced them to play nothing but The Smiths. As a pretty hardcore Smiths fan, that’s a hostage scenario I can get behind, and that’s a movie I can get behind.
Apparently it’s also a movie that The Smiths’ lead singer himself can get behind, as the film reportedly has Morrissey’s blessing and will feature copious amounts of legit Smiths music. To me that’s a huge deal – Morrissey’s theatrical nature and extreme personality have made him ripe for scorn and parody, but I honestly think he’s one of the most talented lyricists of the 20th century, and Smiths guitarist Jonny Marr is one of the legitimate greats. Nevertheless, wallpapering your movie with Smiths songs is a somewhat risky commercial proposition, which is maybe why the last time this incident inspired a film, it was 1994’s metal-themed Airheads. (Did the recent Tom Hardy film Legend even bother to use the great Morrissey song about the Kray Brothers? SMDH.)
Shoplifters of the World is written and will be directed by documentary filmmaker Stephen Kijak, and the current assumption is that Manganiello will be playing the radio station’s DJ. I don’t know how you take on this project and don’t give yourself the plum role of the disturbed gunman, but Manganiello is clearly operating on a plane of awesome the rest of us don’t understand. On the topic of The Smiths, however, Mr. Manganiello and I see eye-to-eye.