A Sandler family comedy that values traditions.
Adam Sandler and Idina Menzel, who both had a critical success with “Uncut Gems” back in 2019, are together again in the new made-for-Netflix comedy “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah.” But this time, it also has his two daughters Sunny and Sadie Sandler and wife Jackie as main characters. The Sandler family is here, and I must say: they have blossomed from cute girls to charming teenagers. They’re certainly much more affective than the three would-be “Brady Bunch” girls in “Blended.”
We meet Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler), a frazzled teenager, who cares more her Bat Mitzvah party than her Torah and haftarah readings. Her parents-Danny (Adam Sandler) and Bree (Menzel)-won’t let her get pop-stars or bars for the party. Maybe a ball pit, which the preteen arguably doesn’t want. And her older sister Ronnie (Sadie Sandler) is pretty crazy about a number of things but she can also be well-meaning underneath.
She has a crush on Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman), the cute (but internally unlikable) kid at her Hebrew school. In fact, she’s willing to jump off a cliff and into a lake to impress him unless she can survive a certain humiliation.
But that embarrassment is just a hiccup compared to what happens. She catches her best friend Lydia Rodriguez Katz (Samantha Lorraine) making out with Andy, and shuts her out of her life. She’s blocking Lydia from her phone, and she’s no longer inviting her to her Bat Mitzvah.
Despite her religion, she prays to God, asking for guidance about her puberty and maturity, and for her party to be successful. It’s another entertaining coming-of-age film this year to have a teenager combine both religions after “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Basically the only reasons why this movie doesn’t top that is because outside her prays, she’s often whiny and bratty towards her parents. She whines to her mom about the dress she choses, and she curses at her father for how she chooses to kiss Andy in a temple. These scenes can be overwhelming, but at least they’re handled better than how the main Jewish kid had to order dumplings over his mother’s spaghetti in “Armageddon Time.”
There are also hardships within the friendship breakup, including Lydia’s parents (Jackie Sandler and Luis Guzman) divorcing, and how Stacy’s behaviors and choices threaten to take her good qualities away from her.
“You Are So Not invited to My Bat Mitzvah” is based on Diana Rosenbloom’s book with the screenplay by Alison Peck (“Ugly Dolls”) and the direction by Sammi Cohen (“Crush”). It’s now clear that Sandler’s daughters are able to take after their father’s behaviors, whether they’re funny or serious. And it’s also clear that Sunny can portray a preteen with qualities and difficulties. And I say “preteen,” because she hasn’t become a woman yet, according to Jewish tradition.
Maybe it’s the enjoyment talking, but I think Sandler’s work at Happy Madison has gotten better with “Hustle,” and now, this movie. They both work, because they feature vulnerabilities we can or can’t see coming. And in this case, it shares its love for Jewish traditions without being so condescending, and it can move you or tickle you. It all depends on how it all plays out.
Streaming on Netflix Tomorrow
This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.