I did not have a big bat mitzvah. Like Bree and Danny Friedman of Netflix’s recent You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah (played by Idina Menzel and Adam Sandler respectively), my parents were not fans of big b’nei mitzvah parties. “When I got bar mitzvahed, we had a party in Grandma’s basement” wasn’t something my dad ever said, but I lost track of how many times I heard “It’s not about the party” during the process. Fortunately for my parents, I was a socially anxious 13-year-old, and unlike protagonist Stacy Friedman (played by charmingly awkward Sunny Sandler, daughter of Adam Sandler), I had no interest in a big party with loud music. In lieu of a DJ, I had a candlelight cave tour outside my home in Tucson, Arizona. (Spoiler alert: I managed to avoid the party, but I still walked away with a heavy dose of teenage angst).
Suffice it to say, when I first heard about You Are So Not Invited…, I had my doubts. Would this be another b’nei mitzvah story that emphasized the lavish party over the Jewish elements? Did we really need to see another story about rich Jews? Would we get more than a passing reference to the beautiful religious and cultural elements of Judaism, or would our identity be reduced to shallow stereotypes and jokes?
To my pleasant surprise, You Are So Not Invited… is one of the most loving depictions of Judaism and Jewish people that I’ve seen in some time.
To my pleasant surprise, You Are So Not Invited… is one of the most loving depictions of Judaism and Jewish people that I’ve seen in some time. Based on the 2005 novel by Fiona Rosenbloom, the film follows Stacy Friedman through her b’not mitzvah process. It’s a film that champions Jewish people living normal Jewish lives, whether it’s hot crush Andy Goldfarb, who’s complimented for his yarmulke, or the many Jews of color in Stacy’s Hebrew school class. In one of my favorite scenes, older women kvell in Yiddish at cute baby pictures of Lydia. They’re not treated as the kvetching, nagging bubbies, often depicted in the media. They’re women who love their community and life.
As father Danny, Adam Sandler is largely responsible for the film’s loving portrayal of Judaism (if you’re not into typical Sandler flicks, have no fear; my partner forced me to watch Big Daddy a few weeks ago, and the humor is as about as different as you can get). Though Sandler is cast in a more supporting role, he still snags some of the film’s best, most Jewish lines, including “Welcome to being Jewish. We don’t get any breaks.” There’s more that can be said about him casting his own daughters and wife – Jackie Sandler has a supporting role, and older daughter Sadie plays Stacy’s older sister Ronnie – but it is fun to watch him embarrass his real daughters onscreen.
Admittedly, when it comes to perpetuating Jewish stereotypes, the film can’t entirely escape its premise. Wealthy Jews are its at center, and Stacy’s quest for a big party drives the plot. I’m not a fan of the term “Jewish American Princess,” a Jewish stereotype employed against women, but Stacy often comes across as out-of-touch and spoiled. But she’s also a thirteen-year-old who sees her party as a vehicle for being accepted, and when it comes to portraying weddings and parties onscreen, Hollywood isn’t exactly known for subtly.
Notably, the adults in Stacy’s life are also more concerned with the religious elements of Stacy’s bat mitzvah than giving her the party of her dreams. Her mom insists on buying her a conservative blue dress that’s appropriate for the service, and her dad has no patience for bat mitzvah themes beyond “being Jewish.” Hip Rabbi Rebecca, brilliantly played by Sarah Sherman, manages to instill some Jewish wisdom, exposing non-Jewish audiences to Torah and tikkun olam. This is a film about Stacy’s steps towards Jewish adulthood, and though adult audiences might find certain moments cringe-worthy, Stacy’s mistakes feel like an extension part of the bat mitzvah process. You Aren’t Invited… may not have the same depth as the recent adaptation of Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, but it still manages to say new things about the preteen girl experience.
You Are So Not Invited… was made by Jews who love Jews and who are passionate about sharing their culture with both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences.
Next week, Jews will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, our new year. As the credits rolled, I found myself thinking about the movie’s timing. You Are So Not Invited… was made by Jews who love Jews and who are passionate about sharing their culture with both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. As we prepare to welcome 5784, I can’t think of a better note to end on.
© Mara Sandroff (9/11/2023) – Special for FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Watch the trailer for the movie here.
Watch You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah on Netflix.
Read more about Adam Sandler’s career in a piece written by FF2’s Editor-in-Chief.
Check out the 2005 YA novel by Fiona Rosenbloom the movie is based on here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: Sunny Sandler as Stacy Friedman in You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah. Cr. Netflix © 2023
Bottom photo: Sunny Sandler and Adam Sandler on the set of You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah. Cr. Netflix © 2023
Featured and bottom photo are courtesy of Netflix and used here with their permission.