By Sofia Webster, Film & TV Co-Deputy Editor
In the midst of big budget blockbusters flying into cinemas and streaming platforms left, right and centre - it was a comforting experience to sit and watch the heart warming, surprisingly nostalgic (and a tad cringey at times) coming of age comedy You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah (2023) starring and produced by Adam Sandler alongside his family (wife Jackie Sandler and daughters Sadie and Sunny Sandler).
The movie centres around 12-year-old Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler) who is dreaming of her bat mitzvah along with her best friend Lydia (Samantha Lorraine). However, as the time approaches, the two have a rift caused by a popular boy at school - Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman), thus threatening their supposedly solid friendship.
With Jackie Sandler playing Lydia’s mum and cameos from Jackie Hoffman, Sarah Sherman and Luis Guzman, the cast is well-selected and offers a unique and important perspective as the scenes showcasing Jewish culture and its community are more ethnically diverse than I am used to seeing in other films depicting Jewish culture.
The film is based on a popular book by Fiona Rosenbloom released in 2011, which has a sweet charm to it and lends itself well to this slightly parodic though adorable comedy. Given the title, you would expect this film to be centred around the notion of a girl having her bat mitzvah, however I found it to be rather a loving nod to the Jewish community whilst Stacy (Sunny Sandler) is going through so much more throughout the film excluded from her religion like friendship drama, first crushes and general adolescent anxiety.
It manages to subtly bypass the genre of inauthentic, overly cringey coming of age comedy and finds the humour in everyday moments that all adolescent girls (as well as their parents) go through.
Adam Sandler really delivers in this movie, with his comedic timing as sharp as ever. The girls Stacy and Ronnie Friedman are played by Adam Sandler’s real-life daughters with Adam Sandler playing the dad and Idina Menzel, the mum. As a result, the family chemistry and comedic dialogue is really taken up a notch and I believe this is an important factor behind its success and critical acclaim.
I found the scene whilst driving in the car as a family especially humorous, almost as if these scenarios had taken place in real life!
'Everybody in this house needs a shrink.'
'Yeah, you need two.'
'[chuckling] That’s nice. Everybody be normal. We’re going to Temple.'
I felt the film was one of the most authentically progressive coming of age films I have seen in a while, through references to social media whilst growing up as well as through its music selection. The music was selected by Este Haim (one third of sister band HAIM) as well as Amanda Yamate who both do a fantastic job at embodying the predictable music choices of a 12-year-old girl - most notably Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift, whose albums are plastered over Stacy’s bedroom wall throughout the movie.
Throughout the film, I really felt that director Sammi Cohen and screenwriter Alison Peck tapped into that awkward side of adolescent life to deliver this quirky though charming family comedic tale.
Sammi Cohen spoke to Variety Magazine for this exact reason… 'It was important for me that the movie was a more progressive and a more modern telling of the book. It’s more inclusive, queer, body positive and progressive when it comes to things like social issues and family dynamics and gender.' This very much shows throughout the film which offers a genuine glimpse into what adolescent life as part of the Jewish faith is like.
For Netflix to produce this film, this is a promising direction for the company to take by casting films that showcase different cultures and ethnicities in an increasingly authentic light. I look forward to hopefully seeing a greater number of films following on from this film’s example as it receives critical acclaim across so many regarded media platforms, thus generating an impressive Rotten Tomatoes rating of 92%.
Overall, I would recommend this film as it is lots of fun, and even though the acting may not necessarily be Oscar-worthy, the film has been made with a lot of love, making it an endearing and light-hearted watch that is loved by many.
Featured Image: IMDb
Will you be watching Adam Sandler and clan star in this new Netflix film?