A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a religious event that signifies the transition to becoming an adult for Jewish teenagers, but the emphasis in many cases is put on how big a party a kid might have. The notion of officially being considered an adult at age twelve or thirteen is a strange one given that the primary concerns of a person that age are often quite insignificant when looked back on years later. But for those in the moment who haven’t yet experienced what life will eventually have to offer, this can be everything. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is a funny, layered look at what it means to engage with tradition while still falling prey to the insecurity of teenage antics.
As they prepare for their Bat Mitzvahs, best friends Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler) and Lydia Rodriguez Katz (Samantha Lorraine) have a bitter falling out. After Stacy is publicly embarrassed in front of her dimwitted crush Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman), Lydia begins dating him. The typically serious-minded and studious Stacy finds herself unable to concentrate on her Mitzvah project and other preparations, instead scheming to get revenge on the person she previously felt closest to and now can’t stand.
This Netflix movie is based on the book of the same name by Fiona Rosenbloom, and comes from director Sammi Cohen, who last tackled teenage girls trying to navigate being teenagers in the queer Hulu comedy Crush. Much of You Are So No Invited to My Bat Mitzvah involves the excess found at Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties that include lavish themes, numerous outfit changes, and a general sense of competition to go all-out. But there’s more to that here as Stacy repeatedly listens to a recording of her Torah portion to practice and engages with Rabbi Rebecca (Sarah Sherman) about what her Mitzvah project – a chance to do something good for the community – should really mean.
While many other films about Judaism skim just the surface, this one does go deeper. Multiple scenes take place at a thriving Hebrew school where students are referred to by their Hebrew names (Stacy’s is Seema) and discuss relevant topics about Judaism in their lives. Even a meathead like Andy wears a Star of David necklace, and when Rabbi Rebecca is forced to have a tough-love moment, she says she has to remove her “Rabbit hat” and promptly replaces the yarmulke on her head with another one that represents a younger, hipper side of her personality. These small touches enhance an experience that might have been just as entertaining without them but is all the more joyous because of their inclusion.
Above all, this is a film about teenage friendship, and adult audiences shouldn’t go in expecting something overly sophisticated or boundary-breaking. There’s just enough in the way of exaggerated flourishes that surely couldn’t happen in real life but make for wondrously cinematic scenes, and it’s all very fun to watch. It’s also a family affair from Happy Madison Productions, featuring Adam Sandler as Stacy’s father, his wife Jackie as Lydia’s mom, and real-life sisters (and Adam’s daughters) Sunny and Sadie as Stacy and her older sister Ronnie. Awareness of that familial involvement gives the film a lived-in feel that only adds to the enjoyment factor.
While the whole cast, which also includes Idina Menzel as Stacy’s mom and Ido Mosseri as the eternally-tapped DJ, is more than competent, this film works most due to the chemistry between Sunny Sandler and Samantha Lorraine. They’re a fantastic duo who draw out the angst and misery of being teenagers but also hone in on the unbridled happiness they feel when they’re getting along. Their relationship is a perfect fit for this movie, which is fun and light but also does a great job showing the wealth of diversity within the Jewish people and the little things that still matter even when it’s hard to compare anything with the magnitude of a seriously epic party.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is streaming exclusively on Netflix.