You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah
August 24th, 2023
MOVIE: YOU ARE SO NOT INVITED TO MY BAT MITZVAH
STARRING: SUNNY SANDLER, SAMANTHA LORRAINE, ADAM SANDLER, IDINA MENZEL
DIRECTED BY: SAMMI COHEN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Adam Sandler likes to have his friends and family be a part of his movies. Shooting in exotic locations, exquisite gifts after wrapping, and the fact that he’s still giving Rob Schneider steady work, it’s not a mystery that the Sand-man has been generous to those around him. I guess it was inevitable that the nepotism would extend to his children. It had already begun with his wife Jackie Sandler and now he is bringing his children along in You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah. It’s a coming-of-age story, about two 16-year-old friends that have a quarrel over a boy they both like, causing a rift before their highly anticipated bat mitzvah parties. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is an entire family affair, a cute movie, with a few laughs, a relatively predictable plot, and ushering in more opportunities for a Sandler to be making movies.
Similar to last year’s Cha Cha Real Smooth, party planning for bar and bat mitzvahs has reached the heights of a full-scale wedding, with DJs, balloons, ice cream, and anything else to make it the most memorable party of all time. That continues in You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, where we meet the Friedman family, father Danny (Adam Sandler), mother Bree (Idina Menzel playing Sandler’s movie wife a second time), older daughter Ronnie (Sandler daughter Sadie) and younger daughter Stacy (Sunny Sandler). With Stacy turning 16, she is prepping for her bat mitzvah and the goal is for it to be the most epic night ever. She’s talking about having Dua Lipa perform, candy everywhere, all of her friends from Hebrew school, and of course best friend Lydia (Samantha Lorraine).
All of these extravagant party ideas are easy for Stacy to build up in her head, but first, she has to do the work, which means learning her reading, helping in the community, and showing she is ready to be an adult. Before all of that, she and Lydia try to impress friends in school, especially class crush Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman). When Stacy has a mishap with her period pad, that’s where Andy begins to notice Lydia, and when the two of them hook up, it’s the worst thing a friend could ever do. Friendship off and do not expect an invite to the big bat mitzvah bash.
In the early stages, director Sammi Cohen doesn’t seem to have a grasp on where the movie is headed, or if she wants it to be a comedy or coming of age. It could be the Netflix part, where it starts with objectively bad jokes, montages of kids having fun, pop music interludes, and little plot. It repeats that for the first twenty minutes and then things settle down. The screenplay, written by Alison Peck and Fiona Rosenbloom, thrives when it turns into the coming-of-age style. It’s not half as great as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., but it works due to comedy that never goes overboard, along with a film-saving appearance from SNL’s Sarah Sherman as a hilariously inspired rabbi, and an impressive performance from Sunny Sandler. Her character has a genuine arc, realizing that fighting over a boy is silly at her age, discovering that friendship is more important than a party, and begrudgingly listening to her father’s advice. This is definitely a movie for teenagers.
Something that is certainly a problem that I had about You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah was nepotism. It feels like a film written after the Vulture nepo-baby article was released, a sort of “yeah, what are you going to do about it?” approach to how celebrity parents get their children into the business without any of the struggles. Credit to Cohen for pointing out that Sunny Sandler is the more talented of the two but it’s not hard when Sadie Sandler is neither funny nor good at acting. But the nepotism still hovers over like a cloud, tainting any chance of allowing the film to feel authentic and feeling like a shameless test run to get the Sandler daughters’ experience.
Those quarrels may seem unfair to some but they do impact the film. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah has genuine moments that are cute and plenty of laughs from the side character Papa Adam, but it takes time to get going. And there certainly is a career out there for Sunny Sandler. I would welcome it, but similar to other nepo-babies like Sofia Coppola or John David Washington, she will have to earn it first. Credit through where it is due, they know how to throw one hell of a bat mitzvah party.
YOU ARE SO NOT INVITED TO MY BAT MITZVAH IS PLAYING ON NETFLIX ON FRIDAY AUGUST 25TH, 2023.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady