Holy Rollers (2010) Poster

Holy Rollers (2010)

  • Rate: 5.8/10 total 2,318 votes 
  • Genre: Biography | Crime | Drama | History | News
  • Release Date: 23 December 2010 (Israel)
  • Runtime: 89 min
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Holy Rollers (2010)


Holy Rollers 2010tt1143896.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Holy Rollers (2010)
  • Rate: 5.8/10 total 2,318 votes 
  • Genre: Biography | Crime | Drama | History | News
  • Release Date: 23 December 2010 (Israel)
  • Runtime: 89 min
  • Filming Location: 84-06 106th Avenue, Ozone Park, New York, USA
  • Budget: $1,000,000(estimated)
  • Gross: $302,886(USA)(22 August 2010)
  • Director: Kevin Asch
  • Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha and Danny A. Abeckaser
  • Original Music By: Mj Mynarski   
  • Soundtrack: Porque Amor
  • Plot Keyword: Ecstasy | Jewish | Sushi | Jewish Wedding | Airport

Writing Credits By:

  • Antonio Macia (written by)

Known Trivia

  • Many of the extras in the film were Satmar Hasidim, who would spontaneously offer prayers and blessings at appropriate points in movie scenes, even though those were not scripted.
  • The interior scenes in Brooklyn were shot in actual houses and an actual synagogue, not on stages. Many of the interior house scenes were shot in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn, in empty houses without heat, during a very cold January 2008.
  • The screenplay and story is about Hasidic Jews, but the screenplay was written by Antonio Macia, who is a Mormon.
  • Siblings Jesse Eisenberg and Hallie Kate Eisenberg also play siblings in this film.
  • The title is an American colloquial expression that refers informally (and sometimes derogatorily) to Protestant sects whose worship meetings often include sessions of frenzied excitement (despite the Christian connotation of the term, this movie is about Jews). In addition to that connection, the title also is a reference to the other subject matter of the film, the illegal trafficking of the drug MDMA or “Ecstasy” (“rolling” is a slang term used to describe being high on Ecstasy).
  • The term “holy roller” doesn’t have a French equivalent or logical translation, so the film was released in France with the English title “Jewish Connection.”
  • The long black pieces of leather with small boxes attached to them that Sam puts on his arms and head several times during the movie are called “tefillin” (or less commonly, “phylacteries,” which is their secular, Greek-derived name). Very observant Jews (traditionally men, although some women in the Reform movement participate as well) over the age of thirteen put them on and say a blessing. The four Torah passages inside the little boxes all contain some variation of specific instructions to put those passages “on your hand” (which is why one box goes onto the arm) and “between your eyes” (which is why one box goes on the forehead). “Laying” or “wrapping” tefillin is considered to be a very important “Mitzvah” (commandment) in Judaism.
  • Sam calls his father “tateh,” which is a Yiddish term of endearment for a father (akin to the English word “dad”). See also Ragtime.

Goofs: Anachronisms: The movie is set in 1998 and you can clearly see cars that have license plates that were not used at that time.

Plot: 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. Full summary » |  »

Story: Inspired by a true story of a young Hasidic man who was lured into the world of international drug trafficking in the late 90s.Written by Carter  

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Danny A. Abeckaser known as producer
  • Kevin Asch known as executive producer
  • Dave Berlin known as executive producer
  • Michael Fucci known as associate producer
  • Jen Gatien known as producer
  • Isaac Gindi known as executive producer
  • Judy Maat known as line producer: Amsterdam
  • Per Melita known as producer
  • Robert Profusek known as co-producer
  • Marat Rosenberg known as executive producer
  • Ryan Silbert known as co-producer
  • Suzanne Spangler known as associate producer
  • Tory Tunnell known as producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Jesse Eisenberg known as Sam Gold
  • Justin Bartha known as Yosef Zimmerman
  • Ari Graynor known as Rachel Apfel
  • Danny A. Abeckaser known as Jackie Solomon
  • Mark Ivanir known as Mendel Gold
  • Elizabeth Marvel known as Elka Gold
  • Jason Fuchs known as Leon Zimmerman
  • Q-Tip known as Ephraim
  • Hallie Kate Eisenberg known as Ruth Gold (as Hallie Eisenberg)
  • Bern Cohen known as Rebbe Horowitz
  • Stella Keitel known as Zeldy Lazar
  • David Vadim known as Mr. Maxim
  • Charlie Hewson known as Andrew (The Goy)
  • Penny Bittone known as Ivan
  • Ori Pfeffer known as Beni
  • Andrew Levitas known as Great Necker #1
  • Marc Rose known as Great Necker #2
  • Omer Barnea known as Dutch Hasidic Man
  • Karina Arroyave known as Fabric Customer
  • Alizée Guinochet known as French Model (as Alizee Guinochet)
  • Alessandro Esposito known as Yonkel Gold
  • Eli Gelb known as Young Hasidic Mule
  • Evan Mathew Weinstein known as Young Hasidic Father
  • Court Young known as Customs Officer
  • Caroline Clay known as Customs Agent (as Caroline Stefanie Clay)
  • Kerry Morgan known as Airplane Passenger
  • Stretch Armstrong known as DJ Announcer
  • Lydia Muijen known as Dutch Announcer
  • Robin Byrd known as TV Personality
  • Roderick Pannell known as Passerby
  • Hina Abdullah
  • David Beck known as Hasidic Jew (uncredited)
  • Lou Cantres known as Carlos the Mailman (uncredited)
  • Keith Davis known as Security Guard (uncredited)
  • Rachel Heller known as Girl (uncredited)
  • Joseph R. McConnell known as Thug (uncredited)
  • Leslie C. Nemet known as Young Hasidic Mother (uncredited)
  • Robert Oppel known as Tattooed Inmate (uncredited)
  • Zoe Portanova known as Party Girl (uncredited)
  • Tim Schuebel known as U.S Customs Agent (uncredited)
  • Sammuel Soifer known as Shmuely Lazar (uncredited)
  • Caitlyn Sponheimer known as Girl at Airport (uncredited)
  • Anita Storr known as Passenger going through customs (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Brenda Bush known as makeup artist (as Brenda Kay Bush_)
  • Laura Menear known as additional makeup artist
  • Layna Roberts known as hair stylist (as Laynea Roberts)

Art Department:

  • Stephanie Crane known as assistant shopper
  • Matteo Felice known as art department coordinator
  • Colin Healey known as set dresser
  • Matthew W. Herschel known as assistant set decorator
  • Matthew W. Herschel known as graphic artist
  • Helena Kincaid known as additional property assistant
  • Scott Kuzio known as leadman
  • Martine Langatta known as scenic artist: New Mexico
  • Tim Linden known as property master
  • Travis Moonschein known as charge scenic artist
  • Racey North known as assistant property master
  • Ian Pilger known as construction coordinator
  • Amy Williams known as on-set dresser




Production Companies:

  • Deerjen Films
  • Lookbook Films
  • Safehouse Pictures

Other Companies:

  • 4th Street Recording  score recorded at
  • Craftysnax  key craft service
  • D.R. Reiff & Associates  insurance
  • Diks Autoverhuur  production vehicles: Amsterdam
  • East Coast Lighting and Design  electric equipment (as East Coast Lighting)
  • Gigantic Studios  post audio services
  • Gray Krauss Des Rochers  legal counsel (as Gray Krauss)
  • Holland Equipment  camera equipment: Amsterdam
  • Kevoo Caterers  catering
  • Kodak  film stock: Amsterdam
  • Lutz & Carr  accounting services (as Lutz and Carr)
  • Media Services  payroll services
  • Movie Mobile  camera dollies
  • N.Y.C. Casting  estras casting associate (as NYC Casting)
  • National Bank of California  financing provided by
  • New York Speech Improvement Services  dialect coach
  • PalmStar Entertainment  casting
  • Panavision  camera and lenses


  • Pyramide Distribution (2011) (France) (theatrical)
  • Cinetic Rights Management (2010) (USA) (all media) (digital)
  • First Independent Pictures (2010) (USA) (all media)
  • P.F.A. Films (2010) (Italy) (all media)



Other Stuff

Visual Effects by:
  • Chris MacKenzie known as digital opticals

Release Date:

  • USA 25 January 2010 (Sundance Film Festival)
  • USA April 2010 (Newport Beach International Film Festival)
  • USA 21 May 2010 (limited)
  • USA 22 May 2010 (Seattle International Film Festival)
  • Aruba June 2010 (Aruba International Film Festival)
  • Canada 18 June 2010 (limited)
  • France 8 September 2010 (Deauville American Film Festival)
  • Sweden 18 November 2010 (Stockholm International Film Festival)
  • Israel 23 December 2010
  • Belgium 9 February 2011
  • France 16 February 2011
  • Spain 15 June 2011 (Barcelona Jewish Film Festival)
  • Ireland 8 July 2011
  • UK 8 July 2011
  • Sweden 5 October 2011 (DVD premiere)

MPAA: Rated R for drug content and language throughout, and brief sexual material



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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Posted on March 29, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , , , , .


  1. lewiskendell from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 7:41 pm

    "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 thatit's based on, but it's an interesting flick. It really doesn't do muchmore than the many movies that chronicle the rise and fall of a drugdealer that came before, if I'm being honest. You have your innocentyoung man who's seduced and corrupted by the (seemingly) easy money ofdrugs (ecstacy, in this instance), that he's introduced to by a shadyfriend, and most of the consequences play out in exactly the way youwould expect them to and have seen before. But the setting among theHasidic Jew community of New York gives the movie a unique spin that(at least for me) made it something other than the cookie-cutter storyit could have been.

    Jesse Eisenberg was totally believable as the initially pure-heartedmain character whose desire to make more money leads him away from hisfamily and the life he values. It was a good role for him, but itdidn't really require him to stretch beyond his characters inAdventureland or Zombieland. Which isn't to say that he's not goodhere, he just gives a very familiar performance. I hear he plays a verydifferent character than his usual in The Social Network, though, sohopefully my fears of him being forever bound by one particularcharacter 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 characterwas pretty one-dimensional and didn't really give her much to workwith. The same goes for Justin Bartha's character and most of theothers in the movie: they're not really written as whole people.They're given one or two qualities and everything they do stems exactlyfrom their total greed, purity, etc. It would have been nice to seesome more "complete" characters, but that's my only real complaintabout the film.

    I liked the documentary-like quality of the camera work; if almost madeit seem like I was watching the movie unfold in real-time. And as Isaid before, the setting and context the story plays out in was HolyRollers' biggest strength, in my opinion. How much you enjoy it willdepend largely on how much interest you still have in these kinds ofstories, as it admittedly doesn't rise out the familiar trappings andscenarios of similar movies. I still found it to be prettyentertaining, though.

  2. Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
    29 Mar 2012, 7:41 pm

    In this compellingly acted but underwritten true-life saga, Sammy Gold(Jesse Eisenberg) is a good Hasidic Jewish boy who works with hisfather in the garment district. At twenty, Sammy is naive and polite.He's supposed to get married, though the girl switches to somebodyelse. He may become a rabbi, but he's not sure yet. He looks sweet andadorable in his 'payis'side curls, black suit, and big hat. He has agood head for business and is dissatisfied that his unambitious fatherwould put customer relations so far above profits. Along comes Yosef(Justin Bartha), a neighborhood acquaintance, who's making inexplicableamounts of money and wears a flashy Rolex. "Women like shiny things,"he says. He claims he's getting paid a lot just for carrying medicineover from Europe for rich people.

    At Yosef's urging, Sammy joins in on a trip and drags along hisneighbor Leon (Jason Fuchs). All they have to do is carry suitcases,not look in them or open them for anybody, not look nervous, and actJewish. Acting Jewish isn't too hard when you're decked out as anorthodox Jew. They go to Amsterdam and return to New York via Brusselsand Montreal. The two young men in their black suits and big hats areforced to wait in a brothel hotel in the red light district: theirfirst trip to Amsterdam isn't very glamorous. (Later Sammy commentsthat he knows Anne Frank's house is here and he's sorry he doesn't gettime to visit it.) Leon freaks out at the obvious illegality of theoperation on the first trip and quits; he's getting married. But Sammy,whose life hadn't taken shape, continues the lucrative runs and evenbecomes a semi-partner, looking after the business side and instructingnew recruits. What Sammy and the others with him are doing is acting asdrug mules and they're bringing the illegal recreational drug "ecstasy"(MDMA) from Amsterdam to New York. Orthodox Jewish garb is perfectcover. Who would suspect such a person? The ringleader is JackieSoloman (Danny A. Abeckaser), an Israeli. Sammy is charmed by, andpartly charms, Jackie's girlfriend Rachel (Ari Graynor). Though hepretends to be still working for his father, Sammy allows Jackie andhis world to dominate his life.

    As played by Eisenberg with a nice mixture of lightness and intensity,Sammy, or Shmu'el as his father and the rabbi call him, is a mass ofcontradictions that come together perfectly to get him into this mess.He's smart but naive, aggressive but shy, aloof but a people-pleaser, agood boy who becomes a willing criminal. The film informs us thatbetween 1998 and 1999, this group of Hasid mules transported over amillion ecstasy tablets from Europe to America. The orthodox Jewishcommunity of Brooklyn, like that of Jerusalem in 'Eyes Wide Open' –Haim Tabakman's Israeli tale of an married orthodox butcher who getsinvolved in a secret homosexual love affair — is tight and small, andword eventually gets around that Sammy is doing something very, verywrong. His father disowns him and he becomes isolated from family andcommunity. Meanwhile the operation grows too careless and ambitious.New mules are forced to carry heroin, which drug-sniffing dogs candetect, along with the ecstasy. Sammy Gold's world collapses fromwithin and without, and he winds up crying on the steps in Brooklynnext to Leon, begging for help as the police sirens approach.

    'Holy Rollers' shows us the Hasidic Jews' world and the dark, flashy,world of the constantly partying drug smugglers, who seem to likesampling their own wares. Eventually Rachel persuades Sammy to try themand swig liquor and dance and kiss her and wear a soft brown cashmereItalian suit. (The young Hasids on the take go around in silly lookingwhite Nikes that Jackie gives them. )

    The tricky part is showing how boys from the one world can get luredinto the other one. The best moments, because they're when thecrossover becomes plausible, are when Sammy talks about the value ofmaking a little more "gelt," or steps in to challenge a black Europeanecstasy manufacturer who thinks he can both increase production andraise his price. Jesse Eisenberg, who first attracted notice in the2002 movie 'Roger Dodger' and then in 'The Squid and the Whale,''Adventureland' and 'Zombieland,' has a disarmingly pure quality, andit's fun to watch him take on the central role in a sort of actionfilm. Sammy Gold is all jittery, spunky surface. Eisenberg gives him anervous intensity that's both oddball and appealing. When he kissesRachel he thanks her after each kiss while trying to pull away. He canact skittish and bold at the same time. He adds a depth that thescreenplay hardly allows. 'Holy Rollers' is his vehicle. It will beremembered for his fresh, vivid performance.

    The trouble with the movie is that it gets so deep in theback-and-forth spiraling drug-transporting action the moral complexityof the situation goes out the window. Eisenberg's changes of expressionand scenes that shift from dark Amsterdam nightclubs and New York ravesto Brooklyn row houses bleached out by the cold winter light suggest aworld of contradictions the film unfortunately doesn't fully explore.

  3. Neil Welch from United Kingdom
    29 Mar 2012, 7:41 pm

    Based on real events in the 90s, apparently, Holy Rollers tells thestory of Sam Gold, (Jesse Eisenberg) a Brooklyn Hasidic Jew who,feeling hemmed in by the predetermined path mapped out for him, becomesinvolved in drug smuggling using Hasidic Jews as mules because theydon't – or didn't, at that point – get searched by airport Customs.

    I had two problems with this film. One, while I understand that much ofSam's background had to be shown for expositional and dramaticpurposes, it wasn't something which I felt easy to get to grips with.Sam's fall from grace therefore didn't have anything like the impactfor me that it would for someone from his background. The other wasthat, for a film which was potentially quite dramatic, I didn't findmuch drama in it. It was all rather mundane, and drab, and "so what?"Even when potentially dramatic moments arrived (like arguments duringdrug meets), nothing dramatic happened.

    Jesse Eisenberg did well in the thankless role of Sam: for me, though,Ari Graynor was the only thing worth watching, perhaps because sheplayed the only character who was attractive, sympathetic, and who Icould identify with.

  4. jessespeer from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 7:41 pm

    I really enjoyed Holy Rollers. I want to see it again. They did a goodjob portraying Sammy's frustration with the uptight moral values of hisfamily and church. Just watching that first half with all thechurchgoing and family rituals and not at all any fun-having, I waslike yes, drugs, sex, bring it on, this is ridiculous. It was all sodry and boring it was no wonder.

    The scene where Jackie's girlfriend talks to Sammy while on ex isphenomenal. Just dead on. I have never seen any movie previously dosuch a realistic portrayal. Go see the movie just for that scene it isentirely worth it.

    There were not a whole lot of moments in the film that just rangcompletely false, I mean it was pretty honest. It was a prettyrespectful movie and I appreciated that.

    When Josef calls out to his little brother from the car, all coked up,taking off his watch and yelling that he's gotten him a present.Priceless.

    I didn't get it though how Sammy's father just completely abandons allhope in his son. I mean being such a religious man and all, he didn'treally offer any forgiveness or understanding. Being all "Why?, Why?" Imean he had to understand why at least to some extent.

    I also did not get this one scene where Josef gets into a fight withthese two guys, Sammy starts to drive away, calling out to Josef, andthen it cuts to some buses or something. That was confusing.

    I was going to explain what I liked about the ending but I don't wantto spoil it :)

    Go see it

  5. Anthony Pittore III (Shattered_Wake) from Los Angeles, CA
    29 Mar 2012, 7:41 pm

    Continuing his run as one of the best up-and-coming young actors inHollywood, Jesse Eisenberg ('Zombieland,' 'The Social Network') starsin this true story as Sam Gold, a Hacidic Jew who mistakenly getscaught up in the world of drug trafficking for an Israeli drug cartelafter accepting a "medical job" from his friend & neighbour Yosef(Justin Bartha of 'National Treasure').

    After only about a decade in the film business, Jessie Eisenberg hasalready starred in twenty films, has headed up one of the mostsuccessful horror films ever ('Zombieland,' NOT 'Cursed'), has beenpegged as a possible frontrunner for the Best Actor Academy Award (for'The Social Network'), and has worked under such great directors as WesCraven, David Fincher, M. Night Shyamalan, and Noah Baumbach. At only27 years of age, this is a pretty fantastic start to a resumé.Eisenberg continues his run of successful film-picking with this littleindie gem 'Holy Rollers.' Many stories are told over & over again andbecome repetitive & stale unless there is a distinct separation thatmakes the new telling worthwhile. In this case, the story of a naïveyoung man caught up in a world of drugs is nothing new. However,throwing this idea into the society of something so otherworldlyconservative as that of Orthodox Judaism places the film on anotherlevel entirely. The story is told very well by screenwriter AntonioMacia whose only other film 'Anne B. Real,' shockingly enough, iscurrently residing on IMDb's bottom 100 films of all time. Macia'spacing, dialogue, and storytelling abilities must have improved vastlyto rise above such an embarrassing beginning in this business.

    Rookie director Kevin Asch also did a fine job with this firstdirectorial effort. His grasp on the material and translation of it tothe screen was a prime example of what young directors can do to make afilm something special. Along with cinematographer Ben Kutchins, Aschsuperbly captured the international settings the film trots through,including the dingy areas of New York City & the Red Light district ofAmsterdam. One issue the film does face comes from its drasticallyshort runtime. Coming in at just under 90 minutes, the film does nothave the length to fully flesh out everything the story had to offer.

    What stands apart in this film, though, above Asch's direction &Macia's script, is the talented cast who deliver superbly engagingperformances all around. Jesse Eisenberg has, for several years, been afavourite of mine among the slew of young actors. He, for instance,managed to make an otherwise dreadful film like Wes Craven's 'Cursed'into something at least a bit more watchable. Alongside Justin Bartha,Jason Fuchs (who plays Yosef's younger brother Leon), and Danny A.Abeckaser, Eisenberg truly pulls the audience into the story andgreatly deepens it. Without the fine performances this cast put forth,'Holy Rollers' would have lost a lot of the good it had going for it.

    Overall, 'Holy Rollers' is an entertaining & powerful drama that goesabove & beyond much of its recent independent competitors.

    Final Verdict: 8/10.


  6. bob-790-196018 from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 7:41 pm

    I never heard of this movie and recorded it only because it stars JesseEisenberg, an interesting actor. It turned out to be a solid drama,very engaging, about a young man torn between two drastically differentworlds, the Brooklyn Hasidic world in which he was raised and thecriminal world of drug smuggling and easy money. The endingdemonstrates the power of family and community as the young man, Sam,played by Eisenberg, desperately returns home.

    The movie portrays the Hasidic community from the inside, with no overtattempt to explain its ways and customs to outsiders. While a passingfamiliarity with Jewish traditions might be useful to viewers, anyreasonably intelligent person should have no problem figuring out whypeople say and do the things they do in this film. My guess is thatsomeone from a very different way of life, such as an evangelicalChristian, might find it easy to empathize with the characters. On theother hand, I personally am resolutely non-religious yet found themovie compelling.

    Hard to explain why Jesse Eisenberg is so interesting to watch. Hisfacial expression is really quite limited. Most of the time he wears afrown of intense concentration–the same look that characterized himthrough much of The Social Network. On the rare occasion when he smilesor (at the end of the movie) cries, it is a memorable moment.

    Thanks to the note on the Holy Rollers IMDb start page, I see thatthere was a subtext or rationale for the title of this movie, but Istill think it is an inappropriately snarky title for the serious dramathat this turns out to be.

    Holy Rollers is well worth seeing.

  7. vicfam-17-57372 from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 7:41 pm

    really loved & enjoyed this movie. It was engaging from the beginning.It used dark colors which helped set the mood for the cold Brooklynwinter. It's a human story between temptation & wanting to do the rightthing. The main character is torn between tradition& morality. Verytouching, & extremely well acted by all. If you liked the SocialNetwork, you will also enjoy this movie; it has the same fast paced,engaging speed; you really want to know what is going to happen next.Jesse Eisenberg's acting really portrays his moral dilemma with wantingto be an observant Hasidic Jew, but being irresistibly tempted by themoney of drug dealing.

  8. bdgill12 from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 7:41 pm

    Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg) is a young man whose life is run by hisOrthodox Hasidic Jewish upbringing. He lives at home, works for hisfather, and will marry only the woman he is set up with. Everythingchanges, however, when he accepts a job offer from Yosef (JustinBartha), his best friend's older brother who serves as the community'sblack sheep. Presented as a free trip to Amsterdam, Sam quicklydiscovers that to return home, he will have to carry Ecstasy throughcustoms. While he is clearly shaken by this foray into the world ofdrug running, he quickly realizes what kind of financial benefit thistrade could bring him. He begins training other down-on-their-luck Jewsto smuggle drugs and before long, asserts himself as a valuable part ofkingpin Jackie Solomon's (Danny A. Abeckaser). But as the deals getbigger, Sam's family life falls apart and he comes closer and closer tothe edge as the feds get closer.

    "Rollers" gets some good-enough performances from the cast. Eisenbergbrings a certain emotional attachment to the project and does anadmirable job of making Sam his own man instead of a Mark Zuckerberg asa drug mule. Bartha, usually the comic relief, plays well against-typeand embraces the black sheep junkie with flair. Based on real events,the film's setting is interesting but fails to develop as I would haveliked. There's a great story to be told within the framework of the"Orthodox Jew struggles with the abandonment of his family and faith inorder to make good money" plot line. Unfortunately, director Kevin Aschand screenwriter Antonio Macia neglect this, the most intriguing aspectof the tale. Instead, the focus is placed on a cookie-cutter lovetriangle that stagnates the flow of the film and brought about boredomon my part. A refocused narrative could have made "Holy Rollers" anengrossing film. Instead, the final product is mediocre at best.

    My site: http://www.thesoapboxoffice.blogspot.com

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