All in the family
By Susan Kandell Wilkofsky
Let’s get this notion out of the way. “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” directed by Sammi Cohen will not be nominated for any Academy Awards this year. Not unless lip curling is declared a new Oscar category. But that shouldn’t dissuade you from having a rollicking good time!
Based on the book of the same name by Fiona Rosenbloom, “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” chronicles the coming-of-age story of Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler) and bestie Lydia Rodriguez Katz (Samantha Lorraine), who dream of indulging in their epic bat mitzvah parties. Only they didn’t count on both having a crush on classmate Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman). As Lydia and Andy grow closer, Stacy is faced with the prospect of losing her BFF. The drama created places their rite of passage into adulthood in jeopardy. Oy!
As Bree and Danny, Idina Menzel and Adam Sandler give life to the parents of Stacy. But the Sandler family affair is not just relegated to his daughter Sunny. It continues with Sadie Sandler as Ronnie Friedman, Stacy’s older sister, and Jackie Sandler (Sandler’s real-life wife) as Gabi Rodriguez Katz, Lydia’s mother. Interesting to note that Menzel plays Sandler’s wife as opposed to his real wife Jackie — but no one consulted with me when the film was cast. Sunny and Sadie — real-life sisters — embody the love/hate sibling relationship, creating a realistic family dynamic.
I had low expectations of “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Many of the scenes will be familiar to viewers, regardless of whether they are Jewish or not. I had an embarrassing teen moment and found the difficult moments cringeworthy but relatable. This should appeal to anyone who is experiencing or has lived through that time of teen angst, social maneuverings, friendships and first crushes.
Although it’s a comedy, that doesn’t prevent us from experiencing a good dose of authentic emotion. The film touches on the question of who you want to be and acknowledges that the main character’s behavior isn’t always acceptable. The insightful portrayal of the importance of friendship while tackling issues so common to the teenage years renders the film heartwarming and charming. And as I said earlier, it won’t win any Academy Awards, but sometimes, just sometimes, funny is enough.
Some of the characters are particularly noteworthy. Adam Sandler is comfortably ensconced in the background. Sarah Sherman (“Saturday Night Live” alumna) steals the show as Rabbi Rebecca as she explains G-d with the help of maracas. You’ll be singing along with her very spirited version of “Bim Bam.” DJ Schmuley is played by Ido Mosseri, who hits all the right notes. And for the record, Sunny (Stacy) Sandler had Charlie Puth perform at her bat mitzvah. Talk about epic bat mitzvahs!
How long do you think it’ll be before Fiona Rosenbloom’s follow-up book, “We Are SO Crashing Your Bar Mitzvah!,” is produced? In the meantime, we eagerly await Nathan Silver’s bar mitzvah-themed comedy, “Between the Temples” starring Carol Kane.
The film opened Friday, Aug. 25, exclusively on Netflix. And the good news is, you can watch in the comfort of your own home. Popcorn, anyone?