Upon first glance, “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” may seem like a gift for kids who seemingly have everything, including a starring role in one of dad’s Netflix films. However, Adam Sandler’s daughter, Sunny, quickly dispels any “nepo baby” notions with her endearing and natural performance in a well-executed coming-of-age story.
Sunny shares the screen with three other Sandlers: Adam, who plays her father and also produces the film, her real-life older sister Sadie as her sibling, and her mother Jackie as the mother of her best friend, who becomes the “so not invited” element in the title as the two girls clash over a boy at their religious school.
Directed by Sammi Cohen and penned by Alison Peck, adapting Fiona Rosenbloom’s book, the movie serves as a kind of Jewish counterpart to “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” – a recent film adaptation itself. In this tale, Stacy Friedman (played by Sunny Sandler) converses with God as she navigates the excitement of her upcoming Bat Mitzvah amidst the teenage angst, crushes, and occasional embarrassments that come with growing up.
Like many teenage girls in similar stories, Stacy nurtures a secret crush on the enigmatic but laconic Andy (Dylan Hoffman), a secret she shares with her lifelong best friend, Lydia (Samantha Lorraine). Lydia typically offers Stacy sage advice, which, in her quest to fit in, Stacy isn’t always eager to follow.
Lydia begins to gain the attention of the popular girls, prompting a hint of jealousy in Stacy. Nevertheless, Stacy seizes the opportunity, potentially at the expense of their nerdy outsider friends.
While there isn’t much groundbreaking in this narrative, the film’s charm lies in its smaller moments. For example, Lydia casually mentions, “My mom is trying to spend all my dad’s money before the next court date,” and “Saturday Night Live’s” Sarah Sherman appears as the hip (or wannabe hip) rabbi trying awkwardly to connect with the kids.
Then there are the fantastical Bat Mitzvah daydreams, with the girls envisioning extravagant affairs involving yachts and guest appearances by Olivia Rodrigo. Meanwhile, Stacy’s mom (Idina Menzel) and dad lament the escalating madness surrounding the ceremony. Her father wryly notes that his Bar Mitzvah theme was simply “Being Jewish.”
Adam Sandler isn’t the first Hollywood star to create job opportunities for family members, but “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” stands out as a heartwarming addition to his filmography. It elevates this family collaboration into a polished and ultimately heartwarming exploration of adolescence. With more efforts like this one, the youngest Sandler will undoubtedly secure her place at the “cool kids’ table.”