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You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah movie review: Adam Sandler launches daughter Sunny in Netflix’s cute coming-of-age comedy

For a movie that is so obviously designed as a launchpad for not one but two nepo-babies, the leisurely named new Netflix film You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah isn’t as empty as it could have been. Starring Adam Sandler‘s younger daughter Sunny as Stacy Friedman, a 13-year-old girl on the verge of her bat mitzvah — the Jewish coming-of-age ritual — the movie is a glossy, highly sanitised account of the teenage experience.

There are no rough edges in this movie, even though it tries to present kids at a particularly confusing time in their lives as rounded individuals with complex internal struggles and contentious relationships with their friends and parents. Sandler himself saunters in and out of the movie as the heroine’s father, dropping the occasional nugget of wisdom with that trademark droll delivery, but mostly just offering moral support to his real-life daughter as she takes her first steps into the family business.

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And that’s very much what this is. Sandler’s wife, Jackie, plays a supporting role, and their elder daughter Sadie appears as Stacy’s sister. It’s like if both Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan were to appear in Suhana Khan’s debut movie, with cameos by Aryan and AbRam. You’d watch that, wouldn’t you? But only if they did it with sincerity and not cynicism. And to a large degree, director Sammi Cohen gets away with it in You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah.

For Sunny, her bat mitzvah ceremony isn’t nearly as important as the party that will follow. After all, it is at this party where she’ll get the chance to shoot her shot with the cutest boy in seventh grade. Essentially a piece of homework assigned by God Himself, the bat mitzvah is meaningless to her. And that’s what Stacy tells her father in one scene, before hastily adding, “Okay, it is to you, and old people, and God and stuff.”

But for a regular kid like her — by her own admission, Stacy is neither popular nor a loser — a successful bat mitzvah ceremony can open a door to a better life. So, she creates a mood board plastered with pictures of Dua Lipa and Olivia Rodrigo, and goes about putting a plan in place. Of course, it doesn’t take too long for her to realise that the bat mitzvah of her dreams is hardly possible, but along the way, Stacy discovers that true growing pains will be felt not during a public recital of the Torah, but as she learns to deal with her evolving relationships with those around her.

More than a teen drama about young love, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is a sweet exploration of female friendship. In many ways, it’s also like the recent film Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret — another coming-of-age comedy that was clearly named by someone with little regard for SEO optimisation. That makes sense, considering that it was based on a book written in the 1970s. That film, about a 12-year-old girl coming to terms with her Jewish identity for the first time, devoted itself mainly to theological concerns. And You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah occasionally flirts with these ideas as well.

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“If God exists, how do you explain climate change?” one kid in Sunny’s class asks their rabbi. Sensing an opening, another kid wonders, “If God loves me, why is he always giving me so many zits?” A third kid joins the party: “Why does Apple keep changing chargers?” This should also give you an idea of the film’s tone and target audience. It’s aimed singularly at young girls, with the assumption that their parents might also watch along for a bit. And to that end, Cohen directs it like she’s a teenager herself, which might not have been the best idea. Even though the movie is designed with a young audience in mind, that doesn’t mean it should feel like its been made by one.

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Cohen brings such a hyperactive energy to the proceedings that it often feels like you’re on a particularly chaotic Reel bender, fuelled only by Red Bulls on an empty stomach. Like with all sugary treats, you can’t escape the crash that comes later. There is, however, a universality to be found in the hyper-specificity of the film’s Jewish teen experience, and that, above all else, is what makes You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah worth making time for.

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You Are So Not Invited to My Bat MitzvahDirector – Sammi CohenCast – Sunny Sandler, Adam Sandler, Idina Menzel, Samantha Lorraine, Sadie Sandler, Jackie SandlerRating – 3/5

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