Movie review: Sandler daughters hilarious, endearing in ‘Bat Mitzvah’


Sunny Sandler stars in "You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah." Photo courtesy of Netflix

Sunny Sandler stars in “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah.” Photo courtesy of Netflix

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 (UPI) — After raising awareness for Jewish celebrities in his frequently updated “The Chanukah Song,” Adam Sandler produced a comedy about bat mitzvahs that stars his daughters, Sunny and Sadie.

You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, in theaters Friday and on Netflix on Aug. 25, passes the comedy torch to the next generation of Sandlers and showcases their comedy skills.

It begins with a funny montage explaining bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs to gentiles in the audience. It is the Jewish ceremony of becoming an adult (bar for men, bat for women), but it’s often followed by a lavish party.

Stacy Friedman (Sunny) and her best friend, Lydia (Samantha Lorraine), have big plans for their bat mitzvahs. But, when they start hanging out with the school’s cool kids-mean girls, their friendship suffers right before the big events.

You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah captures the volatile emotional roller coaster of eight grade. Impressing the cool kids can instantly turn into humiliation, Stacy can swear off her lifelong crush in an instant, and best friends can suddenly feud over misunderstandings.

It’s absurd when you look back, but Sunny and Samantha convey both the absurdity and how devastating it is when you’re living through it.

The film portrays the studying that goes into the religious portion of a bat mitzvah. Stacy is in Sunday school with Rabbi Rebecca (Sarah Sherman), and is expected to perform a mitzvah, or good deed, as well as read Hebrew.

Rebecca is a cool, modern rabbi engaging her students with song and humor. There are definitely rabbis like that but Sherman ramps it up for the movie. The point is it makes the bat mitzvah part as funny as the teen comedy.

Jokes about Purim Queen Esther might hit a bit funnier to members of the tribe, but the film is judicious about such specific humor. Stacy’s synagogue shenanigans might not seem as outrageous to non-Jews, but Stacy’s father’s (Adam) reaction conveys the magnitude of her rebelliousness.

Adam embraces dad mode, willing to be a goofy, uncool but loving father. He still gets to be funny in a dad joke kind of way, but part of the joke is also that he’s out of his depth with teenage girls.

He’s really there to showcase his daughters. Sadie plays Stacy’s older sister, Ronnie, a supportive sibling who can already recognize how different the younger generation is only a few years after her own bat mitzvah.

Ronnie gets some good zingers reacting to Stacy too. As the instigator of the feud, and the bat mitzvah subject, Sunny carries the film’s jokes like a pro. It would be easy to say she learned the family business, but it’s clear she developed skills of her own.

Bat Mitzvah boasts a soundtrack that includes the sort of classic rock Adam puts in his raunchier comedies. This time, that music shares the soundtrack with more modern artists to whom teenagers would listen.

The film still conveys what an accomplishment learning a Torah portion is for a 13-year-old. It finds a way to resolve Stacy and Lydia’s conflict that’s true to the spirit of a mitzvah.

Eighth-grade drama is universal, so You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah should appeal to people at any age in any family. It is the kind of movie that can stick with young viewers and have them quote it for the rest of their lives.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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