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‘You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah’ joins the echelon of preteen coming-of-age movies
It feels fresh between some sharp writing and performances.
Like many a preteen protagonist, Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler) sees her upcoming Bat Mitzvah (a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony after one turns 13) as the ultimate statement of how the rest of her life will go. If she and her best friend Lydia (Samantha Lorraine) have the Bat Mitzvah extravaganza of their dreams, Stacy knows they’ll become popular, she’ll marry her crush Andy (Dylan Hoffman), and she and Lydia will live in Tribeca apartments next to each other—in Taylor Swift’s building, of course.
In You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, based on the 2005 novel by Fiona Rosenbloom and directed by Sammi Cohen (Crush), most of what Stacy envisions doesn’t come to pass, and it doesn’t stray far from the formula. But it feels fresh between some sharp writing from Alison Peck and performances from Sandler and Lorraine.
Stacy might not be troubled with some of the same puberty quandaries as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’s Margaret—Stacy’s already had her period for seven months—but many of the same issues Margaret Simon faced are still relevant now.
There are still period-related mishaps, a family that struggles to understand but still loves one another, and fighting over a boy who’s barely worth the effort. Through a voice-over, Stacy has several conversations with God about her fallout with Lydia once Lydia and Andy start dating, and her worries after her life implodes even more.
Bat Mitzvah is a full-on Sandler family affair. Sunny Sandler and her older sister Sadie (playing Stacy’s older sister Ronnie) have had small roles in their dad Adam Sandler’s movies for years. But in their first big film, their dad—playing Stacy and Ronnie’s dad Danny—takes something of a back seat, ready with quips and tough love but more than ready to give his kids their moment in the spotlight. Adam Sandler’s real-life wife Jackie Sandler plays Lydia’s mom, Gabi, while Bat Mitzvah facilitates an Uncut Gems reunion by casting Idina Menzel as Danny’s wife Bree, providing a fun exercise in envisioning Bat Mitzvah as a much happier spin on Howard and Dinah. And while nepo baby discourse is always strong, it’s a tick in the pro column here.
“Just watched You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah and now I’m pro-nepotism,” one viewer tweeted.
Why it matters
Bat Mitzvah joins a growing group of coming-of-age movies where teens and preteens get to act their age while it celebrates everything that Bar/Bat/B’Nai Mitzvahs stand for. But it might also make older viewers feel their age: If you wanted Danny to keep playing that Rick Derringer song on the radio or for the DJ to finally blast “Don’t Stop Believin’,” you’re not alone.
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