How often do we come across a teen comedy-drama that stays true to the genre and has a smattering of coming-of-age elements in it? Netflix rarely gives us a film that has young children in the lead and makes it about friendship instead of romance and other risqué subjects. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is a Netflix romance drama film based on the book of the same name by Fiona Rosenbloom. Written by Alison Peck and directed by Sammi Cohen, the movie, released on August 25, 2023, takes us through the lives of a young schoolgirl and her best friend.
The film revolves around two teenage girls: Stacy Friedman and her best friend, Lydia Rodriguez Katz. They have been planning each other’s perfect bat mitzvah for many years in the hope of making it a talking point at their school. For those not in the know, a bat mitzvah is a Jewish ceremony performed for girls aged 13. She is considered an adult after the ritual. A big bash thrown by the family follows the ceremony. Stacy and Lydia also attend Hebrew school to understand the importance of the faith and the rituals attached to it. A rift appears in their friendship when both fall for the same guy, Andy Goldfarb. All hell breaks loose because it seems one of them is willing to believe the worst. Stacy and Lydia’s intentions come out in the vilest manner. Are the girls willing to put their friendship in jeopardy for a boy? This forms the central plot of the film.
The story of this film is unique among many others in the same genre, thanks to the literature it is adapted from. The adaptation works because it manages to get the attention of adults and kids alike. There is a sense of maturity to the tale of a young girl who is on the verge of becoming an insufferable teenager. The story gives Stacy a cool older sister who is the embodiment of ‘been there, done that’ and guides her through some important junctures without overwhelming her with advice. It makes us wish we had a sibling like that. The screenplay is subtle, playful, and satirical at times. The humor in this film works because it is not trying too hard to please the audience. It flows organically with the narrative.
Apart from the boy’s problems, the screenplay and the story also give us a taste of the pressure preteens are under to become the next big thing in school and the urge to be accepted by the cool group. The peer pressure is real, and many try to help the protagonist believe that there is more to life than being involved in petty matters at school. Alison Peck does a wonderful job of letting us witness the complex friendship that Stacy and Lydia share. The two go from loving to hating each other. The two later seek out one another again.
The ending of the movie is predictable, but its journey from start to finish and the arc written for the girls with layers and complexities make You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah a thousand times better than many films that have come out in the young adult genre. Stacy and Lydia are not perfect, but no kid at that age is, and their catharsis is genuine. They are supposed to go through tough times. The kids will either emerge victorious or stop being friends forever. It is astonishing to watch Alison Peck bring out such fine writing about two girls without sticking to cliches. This movie has a Mean Girls quality to it, where the lead character goes to the dark side and comes back to the light after realizing her mistake.
The father-daughter relationship is explored wonderfully. Adam Sandler takes a back seat in this movie as the girls get to shine. The screenplay also talks about many girls, including Lydia, coming forward to support Stacy due to an incident involving her periods. This is the kind of change we get to see in narratives when women write stories about female protagonists. The movie at no point gets preachy about any subject. It lets all the actors and characters breathe and grow as individuals.
Jewish religion and culture are on full display in this movie, and it is surprising to see the number of bar and bat mitzvahs thrown for the girls and boys of the faith. The cool Rabbi of the Hebrew School and the imparting of knowledge about many rituals that the Jews follow are two of the best parts of the film. The narrative gets repetitive for a bit, but the ending makes up for it. The climax is heartwarming and believable, too.
The biggest highlight of the entire film is the performances by the leads. Sunny Sandler is excellent as the insecure preteen Stacy, who is obsessed with having a great bat mitzvah party and wanting to be liked by the coolest guy in the school. Her redemption arc is well-written and performed. We need to address the elephant in the room: the nepotistic nature of Adam Sandler’s casting of his real-life daughters as his kids in the movie. It turned out to be a good decision because the girls are excellent in the film.
The interactions between them are written and executed with finesse. Samantha Lorraine is perfect as Lydia, who tries her level best to be the best friend Stacy requires. She finally stands her ground and refuses to let Stacy question her self-respect. Personally speaking, I am not a fan of Adam Sandler or any of his films in the comedy genre. This film allowed us to see him in a different light. He is a father figure who has become a dinosaur to his elder daughter and is now clinging on to the next one before he loses her, as well as to the teenage phase.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is a must-watch because it showcases the angst of the kids realistically. It took us through a journey that many of us are familiar with. We get to witness friendship being celebrated over romantic relationships. The girls get to be each other’s happily ever after because friends are forever. It is not that often that we witness such conclusions.