Adam Sandler, Happy Madison Productions, and Netflix have enjoyed a fruitful relationship since the release of the aptly titled The Ridiculous Six back in 2015. Centered around two best friends planning their Bat-Mitzvah, their latest collaboration, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, skims on the ridiculous in favor of earnestness.
Based on the YA novel by Fiona Rosenbloom of the same name, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah looks to carve its name into the slab of similar coming-of-age teen comedies. In one scene, a movie matinee featuring a slew of John Hughes movies can be noticed. The film understands its line of succession and is respectful of its genealogy.
However, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is still unique enough to stand apart from similar movies. For one, the characters are played by actual teens. You won’t find 25-year-olds playing middle schoolers here. Director Sammi Cohen and screenwriter Alison Peck deliver a sweet and easy-to-digest take on the tribulations associated with growing up. Faith is an important cornerstone the filmmakers adeptly use to define the characters and their motivations. Furthermore, this also adds a unique cultural element to the coming-of-age story.
Stacy (Sunny Sandler) and Lydia (Samantha Lorraine) are best friends forever. For their entire lives, they have been looking forward to celebrating the most awesome and extravagant Bat Mitzvah they could dream of. However, complications ensue in the form of school heartthrob Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman). Stacy has a mega crush on Andy, but Andy seems more interested in Lydia. A bold attempt to win the attention of Andy goes embarrassingly wrong and proves to be the initial rift between the friends. The final straw occurs when Stacy finds out Lydia is dating Andy. As a result, Lydia gets so not invited to Stacy’s Bat Mitzvah.
Typical drama associated with teen behavior moves the story forward from that point. Revenge is the special of the day, and Stacy is determined to offer her BFF a healthy helping of it. Her attempts at getting back at her friend are often conniving and mean-spirited. One attempt, put on hold, is accidentally exposed. The result threatens to push the struggling friendship far beyond repair.
The cast of teens is ideally placed in the setting. Sunny Sandler and Samantha Lorraine admirably embody the wide emotional gamut of the American teenager. Any concern over Sandler being the next nepo baby should be quelled, as she more than deserves her casting. Their friends, foes, and crushes all excitedly partake in the affair, bringing to life a world they are all currently familiar with.
The adults understand the roles they are meant to play. Idina Menzel and Jackie Sandler play Stacy and Lydia’s moms respectively. They are embarrassing and annoying in the eyes of their daughters but also well-meaning and loving. Adam Sandler, as Stacy’s dad Danny, and Luis Guzman, as Lydia’s father, accurately represent the totally confused fathers of teenage girls.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah resolves in a typical and predictable fashion, but that does not make it less enjoyable. Ultimately (spoiler alert), friendship emerges victorious in the battle of the BFFs, and the kids can continue to be kids again while on their way towards adulthood. In a sea of similar movies, the faith-based angle and a sincere cast help it identify its own niche. It is a heartfelt and often hilarious vision of two teens on the cusp of womanhood, trying to find their place amid all the mayhem and insecurity adolescence has to offer. Younger viewers will undoubtedly relate to their teenage counterparts while adults will look back and fondly remember the growing pains. All in all, audiences will be happy to be so invited to this one.