Holy Rollers

18 Jul

Title: Holy Rollers
Year: 2010
Director: Kevin Asch
Writer: Antonio Macia
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Ari Graynor, Danny Abeckaser, Q-Tip, Jason Fuchs
MPAA Rating: R, drug content and language throughout, and brief sexual material
Runtime: 89 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%

Holly Rollers offers an interesting premise, and a pretty terrific performance from Jesse Eisenberg, however the script is laden with clichés that make this film feel a bit staged, but all in all I liked it a fair bit, if anything because, again, it got to show Mr. Eisenberg’s talents in a completely different role and he really does give a smart performance in this film, and he’s one of the guys who, since his breakthrough role in the masterful The Squid and the Whale, I have said is part of the bright spots in the future of Hollywood, add that role to this one, and to the ones he gave in both Adventureland and Zombieland last year, plus the one he’ll give as the founder of Facebook in the upcoming The Social Network which looks great, and you have enough material to make a pretty convincing case for that statement.

In this film Mr. Eisenberg plays a 20-year-old devout Hasidic Jew, he’s shy around women and is planning on joining the family business, or was at least, until the brother of his best friend takes advantage of the fact that he’s also rather naïve and gets him to be his drug mule. We are told this actually happened late in the nineties, that Hasidic Jews weren’t viewed as potential drug couriers and so weren’t stopped at airports and used this advantage to smuggle ecstasy pills from Amsterdam to New York.

Eisenberg is incredible as Sam, he’s great in playing innocent, we all know this by now obviously, but this role is different and I loved how he tackled playing a guy who is too shy and because of that avoids women, but he’s not alone in being great in this film, another killer performance in this film comes Justin Bartha as Yosef, the guy that enlists Sam and who, on his first trip, makes him believe the pills he’s smuggling are actually medicine, Bartha is suave as Yosef, the kind of guy that, if you were as sweet and innocent as Sam, you’d have trouble saying no to.

I however, had a problem with this film, and I actually wasn’t able to point out exactly what it was, but then I read Rogert Ebert’s review of it and he had the same problem as me, and he, being the genius film critic he is, was able to identify it perfectly, it is that, when Sam starts realizing what he was being used for, and realizes the money that can come from it, starts becoming a drug dealer consciously, and he does so super fast and without any seeming transition from Good-Naïve-Upstanding Sam to Drug-Dealing-Morally-Crooked Sam, and the fact that the film didn’t illustrate the transition and made it seem as though he just changed overnight was something I hated, and apparently America’s greatest film critic did, too. Mr. Ebert raises a couple other very valid concerns as well, like the fact that there was no suspense in the getting through customs part of the film that would have added some nice elements to this film.

Overall I did like this film, though, I mean Jesse Eisenberg is pretty damn good in it, and Justin Bartha is, too, and while it does have it’s mistakes and problems that could have been resolved, come to think about it, quite easily and quickly, it’s really not a bad movie at all, it’s far from being a great one, but it’s still quite decent, and the premise alone should keep your interest throughout the film.

Grade: B-

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