Adam Sandler gets his family in on the act with You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, an adorable and consistently funny teen comedy that moves his youngest daughter, Sunny Sandler, into the spotlight.
In what amounts to her breakout role, Sunny plays Stacy Friedman, a teen about to partake in the movie’s titular event. She proves to be a wonderful presence.
Sandler’s oldest daughter, Sadie, shows up in a supporting role, as does his wife, Jackie, as the mom of another teen, Lydia (Samantha Lorraine), Sunny’s best friend. All of the Sandlers, including Adam playing Danny, Sunny’s dad, prove that goofy-breezy comedic talent runs in the family. They’re also all capable of handling the heavy dramatic parts—and unsurprisingly, they have great chemistry together.
In the year’s second-best movie about a young girl coming of age (the similarly themed Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is still my frontrunner as the year’s best film), Stacy must mitigate the emotional swings and body changes that come with being a teenager while preparing herself for that all-important bat mitzvah.
The bat mitzvahs in this movie are full-blown social events that command large budgets, vast planning and crazy DJs. Stacy and Lydia are planning to help each other out until a battle brews over a boy, Andy (a very laid-back Dylan Hoffman)—and their friendship is imperiled.
Credit director Sammi Cohen for keeping things lively, working with a script by Alison Peck and Fiona Rosenbloom. The film is full of bright colors and plenty of giggles, with more than a few belly laughs thrown in. It’s no mistake that there’s a scene where Danny takes Stacy to a John Hughes film festival. This film shoots for a similar vibe—and succeeds.
It’s also quite surprising on the drama side, as Stacy can tear up with the best of them, and Adam (who has a significant amount of screen time) hits all the right notes, utilizing those dramatic chops he’s refined over the years. In fact, this might be Adam Sandler’s most finely balanced comedic role yet, relying less on his Billy Madison/Waterboy outlandish side (which I happen to love) and leaning more toward being a real human.
While Sandler’s real wife plays somebody else’s wife in the film, top-billed Idina Menzel has a lot of fun as Bree, Stacy’s mom. One of the film’s greatest casting triumphs would be the already-legendary Sarah Sherman, of Saturday Night Live fame, as Rabbi Rebecca—not your average cinematic rabbi. She has a bit on a treadmill that is one of the movie’s highlights.
Above all, the film shows that Sunny Sandler has a career ahead of her in the entertainment industry. You can cry nepotism all you want, but talent is talent, and Sunny is a glorious chip off a reliably entertaining block.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is now streaming on Netflix.