movie review

Nepo Babies Make Good in You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah

Photo: Scott Yamano/Netflix

The heroine of You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah likes to confide in the Almighty, a habit that puts her in the tradition of a certain famous Judy Blume character who got her own big-screen outing earlier this year. Like Margaret Simon, Stacy Friedman is enduring the agonies of middle school, though she’s less focused on menstruation (“I’ve had my period for seven months now!” she yells at her dad as evidence of her maturity) than on another marker of adulthood — her impending bat mitzvah, the party for which, she has decided, will define the rest of her life. With stakes like those, who could blame her for melting down when she’s denied a virgin-mojito bar or an appearance by Olivia Rodrigo in her entrance video? Stacy lives with her parents and her older sister, Ronnie, in an upscale suburb with a thriving Jewish community and seems to lead a life that has been blessedly free from major concerns, which doesn’t mean it’s short on drama. This winning coming-of-age comedy understands that, when you’re 13 years old, the world really does feel like it could end if you’re not able to wear the dress of your dreams to your bat mitzvah, or if, God forbid, your crush expresses interest in someone other than you.

You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah was directed by Crush’s Sammi Cohen and adapted from the 2007 YA novel of the same name, though its biggest draw is that it’s a famous-family affair. Stacy is played by Sunny Sandler, Adam Sandler’s younger daughter, while her IRL sister, Sadie, plays Ronnie. Sandler himself plays the girls’ father, reuniting with his Uncut Gems spouse Idina Menzel in a pairing that makes the movie feel like a glimpse into an alternate universe where Howard Ratner was content with his Long Island life. Sandler, never one to be ruffled by nepo-baby talk, has been putting his daughters in Happy Madison productions since they were toddlers, but this is their first time in the forefront, and they’re not half-bad. Sunny Sandler, in the lead role, leans toward underplaying Stacy rather than exaggerating her — hers isn’t a cutesy performance, which makes the character’s awkwardness and bouts of shitty behavior feel like something other than teen-movie shenanigans. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah appreciates that being in middle school means still being a child in most ways, but with a new array of social weaponry with which to be cruel.

And Stacy is cruel, all in the name of righteous revenge. One of the key elements of her fantasy of a game-changing bat mitzvah party is the presence of Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman), a curly-haired class heartthrob with a Star of David pendant and the near-superhuman sheen that comes from being confident at an age when most kids are crushed with insecurity. Stacy’s attempts to get Andy’s attention all end in embarrassment, but when the popular kids, Andy among them, start focusing on Stacy’s bestie, Lydia Rodriguez Katz (Samantha Lorraine), Stacy channels all the humiliation and jealousy she’s been feeling at her lifelong best friend. “You’re such a wannabe right now,” she hisses at Lydia in a wild act of projection. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah doesn’t have the exposed-nerve vulnerability of Eighth Grade — though the films do share a scene of pool-party panic — but it’s just as empathetic to what its main character is willing to do to fit in. Stacy chirps “That’s dope” to Andy’s inane observations, has her friends take thirsty photos of her that she “accidentally” drops in his texts, and takes a dangerous dare for crowd approval. Worse, she targets Lydia with anonymous rumors, intuiting that there’s only room for one of them to move up the social ladder.

Cohen keeps You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah moving along at a snappy comedic pace, but in allowing Stacy to grapple with such ugly emotions, it manages to be genuinely moving as well. Stacy’s self-centered, but in a way that’s just part of being 13, when your feelings are so big they threaten to block everyone else from view. As her parents, Adam Sandler and Idina Menzel have the frayed patience of people who have already weathered a round of adolescent angst — “Wow, I never said that to him, and I was nuts,” Ronnie murmurs when overhearing a fight between dad and daughter. As the quirky young rabbi helping Stacy prepare for her big day, Sarah Sherman is an unexpectedly good fit for a teen movie, offering earnest counsel about what it means to try to actually do good for others while performing Looney Tunes-worthy maneuvers on a treadmill desk. Stacy’s spiritual journey may not be as in-depth as the explorations in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, but it’s still a transformation — one that finds meaning in having a fabulous party after all, mojito bar or not.

More Movie Reviews

See All
Nepo Babies Make Good