Review: Adam Sandler and Family Star in Watchable Teen Comedy You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah

For the most part, I’ve fallen off the Adam Sandler train. Since moving most of his newest films to Netflix, I’ve stopping feeling the need to check them out (with the exception of last year’s pretty decent drama Hustle), and I’m fairly certain my life has been better for it. But when I saw the trailer for the Sammi (Crush) Cohen-directed You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, I realized a couple of things: Sandler isn’t actually the star of this film, and after the impact that Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret had on me, I was in the mood to watch another coming-of-age story, if only to be reminded how beautiful and perfect that Judy Blume adaptation truly was. And though Bat Mitzvah is no Margaret, there are still a few things to admire about it.

Written by Alison Peck and Fiona Rosenbloom, Bat Mitzvah centers on two middle school best friends, Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler, Adam’s daughter) and Lydia Rodriguez Katz (Samantha Lorraine), who have both dreamed about and co-planned their bat mitzvahs since they were little. Just to set the stage, Stacy’s family consists of Sunny’s real-life sister Sadie Sandler playing sister Ronnie Friedman, and Adam’s Uncut Gems spouse Idina Menzel as his wife, Bree. And just to get the whole family involved, Lydia’s mom is played by Sandler’s real wife Jackie, with her father, Eli Katz, played by the great Luis Guzman (no relation to anyone in this movie).

Stacy has a crush on a boy in her class named Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman), but after a misunderstanding between the friends, Lydia ends up successfully getting Andy interested in her. Andy is a bit of a shallow tool, so they’re both better off without him, but at various points in the movie, they both end up dating him (as much as middle schoolers can date). But the now-fractured friendship is causing a great deal of pain between the two girls, who keep having to see each other at a series of other bar and bat mitzvahs both of their families must attend (that part of the storyline is a lot like last year’s Cha Cha Real Smooth), all of which are DJed by DJ Schmuley (Ido Mosseri), who isn’t that great but he’s the best this community can do, apparently.

While the friendship drama is fairly standard-issue teen stuff that we assume will be resolved in the final act, the film’s secret strengths rest in its supporting cast, which includes Adam Sandler, Guzman, as well as Stacy’s teacher/rabbi Rebecca (SNL’s current breakout Sarah Sherman), who gets to show off some of her innate, well-honed weirdness, even in this fairly family-friendly affair. She sings a song at one point in which she begins talking about a never-ending yeast infection before we switch to a new scene (Bad, Editor!). There’s also Cantor Jerry (Dan Bulla), whose corny songs are the perfect complement to Sherman’s antics.

The film’s messages about how part of this rite of passage is about growing and becoming an adult, something neither Stacy or Lydia can do until they squash this beef between them, are a little obvious but it’s fascinating to see two very emotional kids make an effort to overcome their initial response to something and let the strength of the friendship lead the way. They aren’t always successful in making this happen, but the struggle is real and plays really well here.

Sunny Sandler is actually pretty solid in her first leading role (she’s appeared in several other Adam Sandler movies, but nothing this significant), and I’d be curious to see if she could grow in her craft outside of her father’s sphere of influence, if that’s what she wants. The film’s resolution is predictable, but it’s also sweet and in no way aimed at my gentile self, so what do I know? The movie’s heart is in the right place, and while that doesn’t solve all of Bat Mitzvah’s problems, it does make it easier to see past them and simply admire the power of friendship.

This film is now streaming on Netflix.

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Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.