Holy Rollers Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 7, 2012
An interesting idea executed in an un-interesting way, 'Holy Rollers' had my attention, but due to a lack of interesting characters and some serious pacing issues failed to hit the mark.
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2010
For a movie based on a true story about Hasidic Jews working as drug mules trafficking ecstasy in the late 90s this movie was really dull.

Sure, maybe the limitations are the result of this being a low budget indie, but I think it would have been worse as a big budget major studio affair. The real issue is that the idea is inspired, but the script, direction, and acting are all lacking.

I liked the idea of a young guy torn between religious studies and making tons of money in the drug trade, but they really dropped the ball with the concept here. It all felt rehashed, unoriginal, and jut kinda blah. It doesn't help that the lead is done by Jesse Eisenberg. I like him, but he just doesn't really appear to be trying here. Justin Bartha however is awesome. He gives the best performance, is the most interesting character, and the focus clearly should have been on him.

I wasn't totally bored, but I didn't really care a whole lot either. Also, the washed out look really didn't fit for me and seemed unnecessary. You could see it, but I would ONLY recommend it for hardcore completists.
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2011
Sometimes very cliche, but with a terrific performance by Jesse Eisenberg and a nice screenplay, Holy Rollers is a good film to watch.
Super Reviewer
½ February 22, 2011
Weak and pointless film, more actors that could act should really have been here and not let Jesse Eisenberg carry all this movie by himself. The story is good but the way it was portrayed could have been so much better.

In Brooklyn, a youth from an Orthodox Jewish community is lured into becoming an Ecstasy dealer by his pal who has ties to an Israel drug cartel.
Super Reviewer
October 26, 2010
This film lacked excitement for a crime story, even if a true story. You feel no fear for the people smuggling drugs. Theres no tension, no edge of your seat wondering whats going to happen next. Its a sleepy crime drama. Just about a boy rebelling against his family and his religion. The cast is solid with great performances by most.. Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Bartha kept this movie alive for me. Their characters is what kept me watching. Its not great but I still think its worth the watch.
Super Reviewer
June 16, 2010
"You are a liar and a criminal. You are not my son."

I'm not sure how close Holy Rollers comes to the actual events that it's based on, but it's an interesting flick. It really doesn't do much more than the many movies that chronicle the rise and fall of a drug dealer that came before, if I'm being honest. You have your innocent young man who's seduced and corrupted by the (seemingly) easy money of drugs (ecstacy, in this instance), that he's introduced to by a shady friend, and most of the consequences play out in exactly the way you would expect them to and have seen before. But the setting among the Hasidic Jew community of New York gives the movie a unique spin that (at least for me) made it something other than the cookie-cutter story it could have been.

Jesse Eisenberg was totally believable as the initially pure-hearted main character whose desire to make more money leads him away from his family and the life he values. It was a good role for him, but it didn't really require him to stretch beyond his characters in Adventureland or Zombieland. Which isn't to say that he's not good here, he just gives a very familiar performance. I hear he plays a very different character than his usual in The Social Network, though, so hopefully my fears of him being forever bound by one particular character type are unfounded.

Ari Graynor was the reason why I initially wanted to see the movie (big-time fan, the girl great), but I have to admit that her character was pretty one-dimensional and didn't really give her much to work with. The same goes for Justin Bartha's character and most of the others in the movie: they're not really written as whole people. They're given one or two qualities and everything they do stems exactly from their total greed, purity, etc. It would have been nice to see some more "complete" characters, but that's my only real complaint about the film.

I liked the documentary-like quality of the camera work; if almost made it seem like I was watching the movie unfold in real-time. And as I said before, the setting and context the story plays out in was Holy Rollers' biggest strength, in my opinion. How much you enjoy it will depend largely on how much interest you still have in these kinds of stories, as it admittedly doesn't rise out the familiar trappings and scenarios of similar movies. I still found it to be pretty entertaining, though.
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2010
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Q-Tip, Danny A. Abeckaser, Ari Graynor, Jason Fuchs, Bern Cohen, Mark Ivanir, Charlie Hewson, Andrew Levitas

Director: Kevin Asch

Summary: Inspired by a true story, director Kevin Asch's film tells the story of Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg), a young Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn who breaks with Orthodox tradition when he becomes an intercontinental Ecstasy smuggler for an Israeli drug cartel.

My Thoughts: "First off, the title of this film is amazing considering what this film is about. But this film lacked excitement for it to be a crime story. You feel no fear for the people smuggling drugs. There's no tension, no edge of your seat wondering whats going to happen next. It's a sleepy crime drama. No thriller here as stated in the synopsis. Just about a boy rebelling against his family and his religion. The cast is solid with great performances by most.. Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Bartha kept this movie alive for me. Their character's is what kept me watching. It's not great but I still think it's worth the watch and the rental."
Super Reviewer
½ August 26, 2011
In "Holy Rollers," Sam(Jesse Eisenberg) is a 20-year old Hasidic rabbinical student in Brooklyn. He is dissatisfied with the amount of money his father's(Mark Ivanir) store brings in, especially as related to his marriage prospects. So he accepts an offer from his friend Yosef(Justin Bartha), along with Yosef's brother Leon(Jason Fuchs) to ferry medicine back from Amsterdam. When they find out it is really ecstasy, Leon quits on the spot while Sam continues on, meeting Yosef's boss Jackie(Danny A. Abeckaser).

"Holy Rollers" proves without a doubt that just because a true story sounds fascinating does not mean it will play out the same way on the screen, as the movie relies on cliches of both drug and growing up in conservative religions genres while dragging towards the inevitable. That's not to mention the movie looking kind of cheap or Jesse Eisenberg sticking out like a sore thumb with his usual tics in such an emotionally subdued community. I think maybe the filmmakers were trying to make a case for the character's individuality but apparently did not notice that Sam's most memorable trait is his greed. If only the character had more complex motivation, it would have made it easier to care about him.
Super Reviewer
May 18, 2013
In what essentially amounts to a film version of a good Locked Up Abroad episode, Holly Rollers tells the story of young Hasidic Jews who were recruited to smuggle ecstasy from Europe to the United States. Specifically, the film looks at the inculcation of Jesse Eisenberg's character to this new lifestyle.

The story that Holy Rollers seeks to tell is a familiar one, but one that should translate well to film. The film does a good job at the start, establishing the rigid belief system and antiquated social structure of Eisenberg's background. His introduction to the world is believable, but the film soon seems to lose its sense of build up and pace. Whereas it set up the Jewish community so well, Essenberg's rise in the drug world seems rushed, with the character arcs of those surrounding him never being fully fleshed out. It's as if the film stopped trying to distinguish itself about 1/3 of the way through, and instead opted for auto pilot.

The performances in the film are all good, with Eisenberg having an especially interesting depiction of his character, conservative, awkward, shy, but yet curious and strangely competent. The problem, however, is that many of the supporting roles never fully developed, being especially pronounced with Justin Bartha's character. The relationship between Eisenberg and Ari Gaynor is also not handled especially well.
Despite the weaknesses, Holy Rollers remains entertaining. It has most of the hallmarks of an effective drama, though it never stops to catch itself and reignite its originality.

3/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
½ April 17, 2011
Jesse Eisenberg's performance is a great reason to watch this film. He shines in this film. I thought some of the other actors in the film were miscast. Definitely check out the film for Jesse's performance.
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2012
I can understand why this film was poorly received, in some criticisms of it, but over all it's a solid drama. I think when you here drug smuggling you think of a violent action. Don't expect this, it was very timidly paced and didn't show the really bad side. It wasn't in your face, and didn't even hint at violence in the drug smuggling business. This took out a realistic feel for this film, but the movie intentionally stayed away from it. The point was a low key spiritual message, when you think drugs low key and spiritual usually don't come up. I think the problem was how the crew produced it and not the film itself. The beloved Roger Ebert stated that "(the Hasidic Jews) never seem to be anything but Hasidic Jews". I strongly disagree with this statement this film also showed there sexual desires and family life. It wasn't all set in a Shul like Mr.Ebert portrayed. The film has a clear message, and without ever saying it you know what it is. Eisenberg acted his heart out and developed the character well from start to finish. It was slow, but at the same time there was a lot to enjoy.
Sam E.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2012
Director Kevin Asch failed to evoke any real seriousness or emotion in Holy Rollers. Plus, the movie shifts between Samuel's (Eisenberg) meeting with his potential wife and his first drug exchange so quickly that the viewer may be confused as to what transpired during that short time period. Yet, Jesse Eisenberg' character is well-portrayed and Justin Bartha plays the Orthodox Jews-gone-bad Yosef perfectly.
Super Reviewer
½ March 15, 2011
The addition of a very ethnic torn between two worlds theme add very little to this drug mule coming of age in the 90's piece. The movie is based upon real life and yet the characters are very two dimensional along with the plot. I was waxing a little historic when they flashed their passport to customs agent and jumped on an international flight. No pat-down, taking your shoes off or forgetting your swiss army knife in your pocket.
Super Reviewer
September 15, 2010
One thing is to have a great idea for a movie, but it's just entirely different to successfully make it. That seemed to happen more often in the Movie Industry these days, and for first-time director Kevin Asch's new drama, Holy Rollers, it was no exception. It featured early this year at the Aruba Film Festival as a non high-profile movie,and it failed to connect with audiences, and now I can understand why. It was about some Jews as drug mules and there was nothing particularly engaging about the material. Drug smuggling is supposed to be a dangerous profession, and for the characters in Holy Rollers, it was an unpleasant task which was like watching the movie itself.
½ March 1, 2012
I'm a sucker for films of this genre anyway, but "Holy Rollers" is in the tier of maybe even "Blow". Eisenberg is his brilliant self and Bartha shows he can do more than just party hard in Vegas or Thailand.
October 8, 2011
Eisenberg, more often an interesting absence in the center of well-cast movies than a leading man, doesn't work his arguable magic here. The Hasidic Jew bits have some undeniable potential, but once the drug world downfall cliches kick-in, there's no saving the good stuff.
½ July 7, 2011
i thought this was gonna b a nice tale about life in NYC's hasidic jewish community and instead turned n2 a movie about drug smuggling jews/mules.
½ June 14, 2011
From Hasidic Good Boy to Drug Mule, WOW!!!! One would never believe that someone with such a Background could be tempted into a Life of Crime, if it didn't really happen.Must admit , it was a Genius Idea.Great & Interesting look into two completely opposite lives, both so different from my own.
June 8, 2010
Meh and blerg. I can't even think of any actual words to say about this. That is how pointless it was.
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