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You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah – Review

You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah – Review

“I love them and hate them simultaneously.” says one-seventh grader in the movie, capturing the essence of middle school’s social elite. This sentiment could be echoed across many facets of adolescence, from family dynamics to fleeting romances and friendships, even extending to how we view ourselves. It’s quite remarkable that any of us make it through the transformation into our teenage years.

The film’s title, “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah,” and its content vividly illustrate the intense emotions and concerns characteristic of that age. The movie serves as an ode to the tumultuous and untidy journey of children teetering on the edge of adulthood. Moreover, it’s Adam Sandler’s heartfelt tribute to his own family, as he portrays the father to his daughters’ characters, while his wife plays the mother to his daughter’s closest friend.

Sunny Sandler stars as Stacy in her charming first role, with Sadie Sandler playing her typically supportive big sister, Ronnie. Stacy views her bat mitzvah as a milestone marking the transition to adulthood—a common theme across various cultures. Yet, whether she fully grasps this concept is debatable. In her prayers, reminiscent of “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” she seems more preoccupied with the party plans than with what she’s learning about her faith or what it means to become an adult. She tells her parents that the religious aspects are “important to you, the elderly, God, and all, but for me, the celebration is what matters.”

Stacy’s lifelong best friend is Lydia, portrayed by the delightful Samantha Lorraine. The film beautifully encapsulates this age’s deep and unwavering friendships, where every aspect of their lives is shared, analyzed, and approved. In a world where the theme of the endless string of seventh-grade bar and bat mitzvah parties holds more importance than the Torah reading or the charity project, the girls scrutinize a previous party’s Carnivale decorations as if they were inspecting a diamond with a jeweler’s magnifying glass. They reassure each other that Stacy’s Candyland theme will be the hit of the year, only to be outdone by Lydia’s New York theme. They fantasize about a future where they live next door to their handsome boyfriends in Tribeca, preferably in Taylor Swift’s building. Their bond is so strong that Lydia pens the most personal part of Stacy’s bat mitzvah ceremony—the speech—after convincing Stacy’s parents that Stacy isn’t a skilled writer. In return, Stacy crafts an endearing biography video for Lydia, designed to draw “wows” from the audience before her grand entrance.

However, things take a turn when Stacy faces a mortifying incident while trying to impress her crush, Andy (played by Dylan Hoffman). Seeing Andy kiss Lydia leads to the dramatic moment when she utters the title phrase.

The story’s sweetness mirrors Adam Sandler’s genuine affection for his family. Although the father he portrays is often seen in sweatpants cracking dad jokes (not a far cry from reality), he is a loving father who cherishes his daughters and isn’t afraid to administer some firm, or rather semi-firm love when Stacy’s poor decisions come back to haunt her.

The thoughtful script by Alison Peck, adapted from Fiona Rosenbloom’s novel, resonates with the “Who do I want to become?” phase of life, where every moment is a mix of excitement and fear about stepping into adulthood. In one early scene, Stacy insists on donning stiletto heels (a nod to adulthood) to match Lydia (a childlike act). Her mother reluctantly consents, warning her about the inevitable foot pain. After a few wobbly steps in adult footwear, Stacy switches back to her sneakers, symbolizing both her childhood and her connection with her father, who favors loose-fitting attire. One friend boasts about being allowed to shave her legs for the first time but admits that it feels like her shins have been smeared with wasabi. Later, she expresses disappointment when her friends plan to take her to a co-ed party, saying, “I thought we were going to stay in and make slime.” Stacy, still very much a child at heart, can’t deny that sounds more appealing.

The film doesn’t delve much deeper than Stacy into the true meaning of the bat mitzvah. The lively rabbi, played by Sarah Sherman from “Saturday Night Live,” points out that volunteering at a senior living center just to be near your crush doesn’t count as a mitzvah project. However, her whimsical song, “God is Random,” in response to students’ questions about global injustices, misses the chance to impart some wisdom on this universal query to both the class and the viewers. While no one expects deep theological insights from a movie like this, exploring how different faiths and philosophies grapple with questions of purpose and significance would be as valid a representation of adulthood as mastering high heels. The film is enjoyable and entertaining, but it asks us to acknowledge Stacy and Lydia’s growing realization of Andy’s shallowness without demonstrating that depth itself.

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