Adam Sandler’s daughters headline this feel good coming-of-age story that blends Judy Blume and John Hughes into a solid comedy.
PLOT: Lifelong best friends Stacy and Lydia have long dreamt of epic bat mitzvahs but when popular boy Andy Goldfarb and Hebrew school drama come between them, their perfect plans go comically awry.
REVIEW: The latest Happy Madison production for Netflix is a family affair with Adam Sandler producing and co-starring in a production led by a cast featuring his daughters, Sunny and Sadie, and his wife, Jackie. Based on the best-selling young adult novel You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah could easily have been written off as a nepotism project for the Sandler clan. But, with a heartfelt message and a theme reminiscent of classic Judy Blume, the film works far better than it has any right to. Sure, it has a few requisite moments of bathroom humor, as any Adam Sandler project is bound to feature, but You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah is actually a pretty good teen-centric comedy.
The film centers on Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler), a thirteen-year-old planning her bat mitzvah with her best friend Lydia Rodriguez Katz (Samantha Lorraine). Stacy and Lydia have been friends since preschool and are focused on celebrating their entrance into womanhood in spectacular fashion. Stacy is also enamored with Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman), part of the popular kids, including mean girl Kym Chang Cohen (Miya Cech). Stacy lives at home with her sister, Ronnie (Sadie Sandler), and her parents, Bree (Idina Menzel) and Danny (Adam Sandler), who are struggling with their daughter’s outlandish and expensive plans for her party. Lydia, meanwhile, is dealing with the upcoming divorce of her mom, Gabi (Jackie Sandler), and dad Eli (Luis Guzman). As both girls strive to fit in with the popular kids, Lydia and Andy sharing a kiss ends the friendship and sends Stacy on a downward spiral.
When their friendship fractures, the movie takes a decidedly vengeful tone as Stacy tries to get back at Lydia in various ways. This involves spreading rumors, revealing secrets, and trying to steal Andy away from her. As things get progressively worse, Stacy begins to realize what is most important, and that is where the film shines. Sunny Sandler shares a good amount of her dad’s comedic timing, which helps make Stacy a likable protagonist, even when she is acting meanly. Sunny also mugs for the camera a little too often, something she also gets from her dad. But, where this film could have been written off as pure nepotism, it has its heart in the right place and works because of the wholesome script and solid direction. Sunny Sandler plays elder sister Ronnie as a moody high schooler but one with sage wisdom for her younger sibling. It also helps that the bulk of the parental screen time is given to Idina Menzel, with Adam Sandler taking a backseat. Sandler has a good scene where he gets to go over the top, but mostly his performance is subdued and supports the rest of the cast.
Of the supporting cast, it is a bit of a mixed bag, with Ido Mosseri’s woebegone DJ Schmuley getting a lot of screen time involving vehicular mishaps. While worth a chuckle, those scenes could have been spent with Stacy and Lydia’s friends Tara (Dylan Dash) and Nikki (Millie Thorpe). The kids overall are very well-cast and funny. The adult cast is good, with Saturday Night Live cast member Sarah Sherman stealing the show as Rabbi Rebecca. Sherman has proven herself as a stand-up comedian and delivered some bizarrely funny sketches on SNL, but here she owns every scene she is in. You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah will serve as a launching pad for Adam Sandler’s daughters, but I also hope it gives Sarah Sherman the boost she deserves to get more substantial screen roles.
Blending the realistic look at teens in films like Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink with the modern Generation Z world of TikTok and memes, You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah works because it is not a traditional Happy Madison endeavor. Written by Allison Peck and directed by Sammi Cohen (Crush), the comedy has roots in Fiona Rosenbloom’s novel. Published in 2005, Rosenbloom’s novel needed several updates to align with what the average thirteen-year-old deals with today, but it still feels like a genuine coming-of-age story that is not mired in cliches or stereotypes. In fact, You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah is endearing for teens and adults alike, with both bound to find enjoyment in this story. Even with a Jewish-centric storyline, this film is not made specifically for Jewish viewers. It can be enjoyed by anyone who has ever been a teenager or a parent of one.
You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah is a mild PG-13 film with some expected crass humor involving bodily fluids. Some tame profanity is peppered throughout, but nothing that middle school-aged kids and above cannot handle. This is one of the best productions from Happy Madison and never feels like a vanity project for Adam Sandler to get his kids into Hollywood. With a good script and Sammi Cohen’s energetic direction, You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah is an enjoyable coming-of-age story that, like this year’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, works as a portrait of being a teenager, female or otherwise. Adam Sandler and his production company should take a cue from this film and make more genuine movies like it.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/you-are-so-not-invited-to-my-bat-mitzvah-review/