'You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah' review: A wholesome teenage comedy
Courtesy of Netflix
Riding off the coattails of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret,” the Happy Madison produced “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” is another winning coming-of-age teenage comedy, except this one is set in the present day and firmly has its finger on the pulse of the TikTok generation. It’s also a family endeavor, thanks to Adam Sandler, his daughters Sadie and Sunny, and wife Jackie who all star in the adaptation of the bestselling Fiona Rosenbloom novel. But unlike Mr. Sandler’s recent Netflix offerings, he’s tackling a smaller role as the likable father-figure who tries to keep the peace while also staying out of the way. It’s a character that’s not much of a stretch for the Sandman (considering these are his real life daughters), but it allows him to take a step back and let his youngest, Sunny, blossom in a terrific lead performance every teenager can relate to.
It’s a story we’ve seen countless times, but “Mitzvah” isn’t trying to redefine the teen comedy playbook, though there’s no denying John Hughes’ influence is all over Sammi Cohen’s film. From the “oh my gawd, you’re embarrassing me dad” one liners, authentic conversations around crushes to growing pains and puberty, this is a spiritual and modernized companion to “Sixteen Candles'' that also happens to capture the young Jewish experience.
Clearly the acting bug has rubbed off on Sunny Sandler playing Stacy Friedman, who, along with her lifelong best friend Lydia (Samantha Lorraine) have been meticulously planning what their Bat Mitzvah is going to look like. Through the preparation, the movie is able to seamlessly educate audiences on what the Jewish religion is through the gaze of a 13-year-old girl discovering what it means to be herself. And with that comes plenty of angst, tension, and talks about boys, including the athletic Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman) of whom Stacy has a major crush on. After a rather embarrassing situation involving her period, she swears off boys completely, but that’s only temporary as battle lines are drawn after Lydia and Andy are seen kissing at parties. Seventh grade hijinks and revenge, including the submission of rumors to an Instagram page, which asks kids to “spill the tea,” (among other things), all but ensues.
But “Mitzvah” is able to find stability amid a genre that’s been tirelessly plucked for streaming fodder because of how it presents itself. This is a movie of the moment, complete with jokes about “getting canceled” and doing YouTube challenges to see who cries first, without feeling bloated or misplaced. Adam Sandler and Idina Menzel coast through their roles as Stacy’s parents, the latter is just embodying a version of himself and even sports his usual wardrobe of basketball shorts and Hawaiian shirts. He’s the perfect embodiment of what a dad in 2023 should act and behave like, which means awkwardly trying to ask his daughters if his outfit has “the drip.” Rounding out the cast is SNL standout Sarah Sherman playing a rabbi that brings all sorts of Miss Frizzle energy and Ido Mosseri as frequent Bat Mitzvah emcee DJ Schmuley.
It’s been a great year for cinematic adolescence on screen and “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” continues the trend. Credit to this talented cast, especially Sunny Sandler and Samantha Lorraine for having terrific chemistry, who make it an easy movie to digest and turn what would otherwise be a routine family affair into a late summer surprise. Mazel tov!
YOU ARE SO NOT INVITED TO MY BAT MITZVAH streams on Netflix Friday, August 25th.