Mixed or average reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Eisenberg lets us see Sam's growing distress, and also the fortitude with which he faces down his fears -- few young actors are as adept at simultaneously conveying panic and bravado.
  2. 70
    The problem is that just as we’re getting to know these characters as people, the movie pulls a veil over them: It loses its nerve and mutates into an only mildly compelling crime drama, albeit one whose protagonist is maybe more tortured than usual.
  3. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    Never quite catches fire, calling for more edge and narrative tension than director Kevin Asch and screenwriter Antonio Macia manage to deliver. Still, it's an often evocative dip into unique territory fleshed out by a highly convincing cast.
  4. As a testament to traditions that are usually kept hidden from Hollywood, Holy Rollers is a mitzvah. But as a thriller, it's bubkes.
  5. Eisenberg - seemingly in every other movie nowadays - gives his best performance since 2005's "The Squid and the Whale" in a film that dramatizes a fascinating New York story.
  6. 60
    It’s gratifying to see Eisenberg move past nerdy-cutie parts; his slim shoulders, it seems, are capable of handling more than Michael Cera’s leftovers.
  7. 60
    Holy Rollers is mostly a marker being put down by some talents to watch, especially Eisenberg, who is greater than fans of "Zombieland" could have imagined.
  8. Holy Rollers fuses a somber, old-world palette with a jittery urban unease--a good mix of tones. It’s also wonderfully acted.
  9. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    Mr. Eisenberg and particularly Mr. Bartha give appropriately twitchy, live-wire performances, and the film tells its basically bleak story lucidly and with touches of dark humor.
  10. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    As a portrait of a subculture few non-Hasidim ever get to glimpse, it's funny, deft, and sharp. The movie's first half goes to great trouble to establish the texture of life in Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn; the second half is a rushed and unfocused tour of the Amsterdam rave scene.
  11. Reviewed by: Justin Lowe
    Holy Rollers squanders a fascinating premise with predictable execution.
  12. 50
    The film's failure is to get from A to B. We buy both good Sam and bad Sam, but we don't see him making the transition.
  13. 50
    A rare drug-crime movie devoid of violence, and pretty much anything in the way of excitement.
  14. An intriguing portrait of an insular community, but its recounting of the seduction of a bright young man by the surrounding culture is heavy-handed.
  15. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Even the portrayal of the Hasidic community comes to feel like window-dressing, welcome for its exoticism but never truly understood.
  16. 50
    Young Mr. Eisenberg and a fine cast give Holy Rollers the ballast it otherwise lacks, but we've been down this road so often that there are times when I could only wonder why I was watching it at all.
  17. Feels staged and exoticized in the way stories about insular communities often do when told by outsiders.
  18. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Failing to generate either excitement as a crime story or credibility as a morality play, the film ultimately confirms the traditional values that helped push its confused lead to the brink of damnation in the first place.
  19. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Asch's first feature is intelligent, respectable yet curiously muted in tone and impact, never fully catching the viewer up in either its crime saga or its account of individual rebellion within an insular religious community.
  20. 50
    This is based on actual events, but it feels a lot like television.
  21. 42
    Director Kevin Asch takes protagonist Jesse Eisenberg on a dour, depressingly straightforward trip from naïveté to spiritual exhaustion.
  22. His drug-smuggling underworld, specifically the Amsterdam-New York connection, is likewise drably depicted. Is this because director Kevin Asch and screenwriter Antonio Macia deliberately played it down, or are they just incompetent? I’ll be charitable and vote for the former, but sometimes sensationalism is preferable to being altogether unsensational.
  23. The screenplay, by Antonio Macia, is earnest and unsurprising--not a good combination--and neither the director nor the star quite knows what to make of the quirky character inside the traditional garments that signal otherworldly innocence to customs agents.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Feb 19, 2011
    After I first saw a synopsis of this film I was immediately intrigued; "Based on the true story of a young Hasidic Jew who gets caught up inAfter I first saw a synopsis of this film I was immediately intrigued; "Based on the true story of a young Hasidic Jew who gets caught up in the international drug smuggling trade." You can't make this **** up. Its actually quite a genius idea to use a sector of the community whose moral fiber is known to have such a high standard to carry out low life deeds. Throughout the film you slowly see the transition of the main character, Sam (Jessie Eisenberg) from a future rabbi to a pivotal person in an illegal operation of drug trafficking. Thrown into a life where his fate is already decided makes you sympathize for the boy. It makes you question your own moral code and if you would be able to resist the ecstasy (pun intended) one would feel from such a heist and the extravagant lifestyle that it brings. It's quite easy to see how he did. Still I feel the films based on true stories tend to take the allure out of the ending, especially with such an
    abruptness to it. Because the real life story doesn't have any high profile notoriety, they should have including more of the details of the operation's discovery and eventual collapse. But the single person story complimented the ability for the viewer to understand the life and cognition of the main character. While a bit of an obvious choice as he tends to play roles of introverted characters, I thought Eisenberg was an overall good choice. He clearly demonstrates the type of actor the role is intended for. Much of the film depends on his ability to persuade the audience that they understand who he is and how he is driving the plot. While Ari Graynor did an excellent job the rest of the small cast was at best mediocre and pretty replaceable. But overall, I enjoyed the film and it did a good job of keeping my attention.
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