The Bat Mitzvah, a rite of passage in Jewish communities, is lampooned in a Netflix comedy starring Adam Sandler, his two daughters and wife.
You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah, set in the United States, filmed in the greater Toronto area and directed by Sami Cohen, zeroes in on the Friedmans, an upper middle-class family whose youngest daughter, Stacy (Sunny Sandler, in a convincing performance), nervously awaits her entree into adulthood.
Her father, Danny (Adam Sandler), mother Bree (Idina Menzel) and older sister, Ronnie (Sadie Sandler), are just as anxious about this momentous event in their collective lives. Maybe, as one of the characters sardonically observes, they all need a shrink to cope with the stress.
Much to Danny’s amazement, Stacy is “growing up fast.” She has just had her first period, prompting Danny to inquire about her blood flow as he drives to a store to buy her tampons.
And she has a crush on Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman), the cutest boy in her grade seven Jewish day school class. Like all her friends and acquaintances, she seems preoccupied with boys.
In an attempt to impress her secret heartthrob, she literally jumps off a cliff into a lake, only to discover that her bloodied tampon has floated to the surface of the water, embarrassing and humiliating her in front of her classmates, some of whom, oddly enough, are Asians and African-Americans.
To make matters worse, Stacy catches her best friend, Lydia Rodriques Katz (Samantha Lorraine), kissing Andy. Regarding their liaison as a betrayal, Stacy disinvites Lydia from her Bat Mitzvah. Lydia’s mother is portrayed by Jackie Sandler, Sandler’s real-life wife.
This coming-of-age movie, which unfolds in a posh neighborhood of fine homes and fancy cars, underscores the explicit materialistic values to which some American Jews are so attached.
Certainly, Stacy comes across as a spoiled Jewish American Princess riding on a wave of self-entitlement. Her loving parents, eager to please, enable her insatiable desire for instant gratification.
In the leadup to her Bat Mitzvah, Stacy chooses a “mitzvah project,” which is supervised by her ebullient teacher, Rabbi Rebecca (Sarah Sherman).
The film is culturally Jewish to the core. Yiddish words are tossed around liberally by elderly people. And when Stacy wants to drown out a moment of despair, she feasts on matzah ball soup.
On the most important day of her Jewish life, her Bat Mitzvah ceremony in a synagogue, Stacy segues into a reflective mood and admits she has been selfish and bratty. To her parents’ delight, she recites a Torah portion in Hebrew with aplomb. “I did it,” she exults to loud applause and upbeat music.
And in a burst of remorse, she tries to repair her battered relationship with Lydia.
As such movies go, You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah is passable, though it is a tad sophomoric rather than satirical. At best, it offers a glimpse of the comfortable, insulated and self-satisfied lifestyle that some American Jews enjoy today in the bubble they have created.