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Danielle Bruncati

4 Reasons Netflix's You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah Is One Of The Best Coming Of Age Movies In A Long Time

Sunny Sandler as Stacy in You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah

Spoilers for You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah lie ahead.

Comedy legend Adam Sandler takes on a supporting role in You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah -- his new coming-of-age movie from Netflix, which is one of the latest entries on the schedule of 2023 new movie releases. This time around, his younger daughter, Sunny Sandler, take the reins. And let me tell you, it’s a move that definitely pays off! In fact, I’d argue there are a few reasons why this is one of the best coming-of-age movies in a long time.

The film centers on Stacy Friedman, a newly minted teenager who is trying to plan an epic Bat Mitzvah party while also dealing with traditional teenage girl/middle school drama. After witnessing her best friend, Lydia, kissing her longtime crush, Stacy uninvites her best to her party, and girl-on-girl crimes eventually transpire as the two seek to get back at each other. The heart of the story, though, is about navigating the complexities of growing up while also shining a light on what it’s like being a Jewish teenager. Though the coming-of-age genre has been lacking in recent years, if more movies take a page out of this movie's hilarious and heartwarming storytelling, the genre might be revitalized. So let's talk out what makes this movie so superior:

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Film Absolutely Nails The Emotions That Comes With Friendships Between Teenage Girls

Despite how sweet and innocent they might seem, teenage girls can be mean. Especially when it comes to how they handle their friendships with other young ladies. Let’s be real, the hormones are raging, and there are just so many reasons to be jealous of someone at that age. While that's basically a universal experience for young teen girls, many movies have failed to get what makes a teenage girl friendship such a rollercoaster. That is until You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah. 

At the beginning of the movie, Stacy belongs to a quartet of friends, who appear to be thick as thieves. But there's an unequal friendship dynamic at play, which is something just about anyone who has ever been a teenage girl can relate to. While Stacy might be friends with all three girls, she is closest to her BFF, Lydia, which creates some tension within the group. That's specifically the case when the other two friends find out that Lydia and Stacy hung out with the popular girls without them, making them feel left out. It’s a classic friendship dynamic that only ends in drama. (And boy, does the drama come.) 

While there is a lot of catty, mean girl activity going on in the movie (ie. Lydia dating Stacy’s crush out of revenge and Stacy creating an embarrassing entrance video for Lydia’s Bat Mitzvah), there is a lot of joy, too. Here’s the thing: teenage girl friendships can be both the absolute worst and the absolute best. Though it takes Stacy some time to understand why her friendship with Lydia is more important than some crush, she does learn that lesson. And when the two friends unite, it results in a very heartwarming resolutions.  If Stacy and Lydia can survive their first middle school boy fight, they can survive anything! 

(Image credit: Netflix)

There Are Modern Sensibilities At Play That Don't Come On Too Strong

I’ll admit, I think it’s hard to tell certain stories nowadays while keeping them current with the age in which we're living. What was cool nine months ago during filming might be totally out of date by the time a movie is released. In this case, relevancy is especially challenging, the movie is adapted from novel written by Fiona Rosenbloom and released in 2011. But director Sammi Cohen was up for the task, telling Variety:

But it was important for me that the movie was a more progressive and a more modern telling of the book. It’s more inclusive, queer, body positive and progressive when it comes to things like social issues and family dynamics and gender.

Without those modernized moments, I’m not sure the movie would work as well as it does. And it’s not just the story elements (like the popular girls questioning if Stacy and Lydia only have crushes on boys or the extensive talks about shaving and periods) that help establish this is a movie taking place in 2023. There also the small details in the background. The popular girls are always seen practicing some kind of TikTok dance and Stacy’s room is littered with posters of current bands like HAIM and Taylor Swift. There’s also just enough texting and social media posting to keep the proceedings authentic without clogging up the screen with messages viewers can barely read.

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Emphasis Of Jewish Representation Is Refreshing

When Hollywood talks about representation, it’s usually in relation to race, but there are so many other forms of it that are lacking, like when it comes to religion. Unfortunately, many movies including Jewish representation seem to center on the past while forgetting that Judaism is a modern and flourishing religion today. I think that’s what makes You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah so refreshing. It shines a light on the community and family aspects of Jewish culture while also conveying that the faith is far from a monolith.

In fact, director Sammi Cohen told Variety that both they and Adam Sandler were excited to get to tell a story about the world they know and love. It certainly shines through in the story, especially with the inclusion of Stacy and her friends' Hebrew school and the scenes where Stacy is constantly practicing lines from the Torah for her Bat Mitzvah. For a long time, coming-of-age stories have been lacking in diversity, and it's certainly time that changes. Hopefully, the the success of this movie will signal to studios that audiences want more stories like this one.

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Comedy Perfectly Shines A Light On The Highs And Lows Of Girlhood

Just like the movie highlights the pitfalls of female friendships for teen girls, it also showcases the wonders and horror of what growing up looks like for them. For years, teenage girls have been sanitized in shows and movies. Young female characters were either portrayed as goody two shoes who did nothing wrong or conniving means girls who were often over-sexualized. But the truth is many young women fall somewhere in the middle. 

I think the critically lauded You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah does a great job of finding that middle ground. Stacy is a good daughter, but she also argues with her parents. While there are more scenes with her bickering with her dad, there’s a poignant scene toward the middle where Stacy goes dress shopping with her mom. That leads to an incredibly relatable moment in which the two can’t seem to agree on what makes an appropriate dress. In the same sense, the movie opens with Stacy trying to look older by wearing heels, only to immediately change into a pair of Converse instead. Look, so many of us been there! 

Beyond that, Stacy is a teen girl who, for the most part, unabashedly talks about her period with her friends and family. She and her friends are also gross together, farting on each other and goofing around in a way teen girls have never been allowed to in movies but definitely do in real life. There’s even a brief scene where Lydia is playing with her Barbie dolls in a way that many girls who played with them will remember doing. And of course, there’s the almost universal experience of realizing that the "it" person that everyone at school is crushing on is actually a total jerk. That's definitely a right-of-passage moment.

For one of the first times ever, I felt my own experience as a teen girl being authentically represented on screen, and it was both hilarious and downright embarrassing to watch and reminisce about. All the while, it made me happy to see the coming-of-age genre finally address the fact that young girls can be just as gross as teen boys.

I think it’s also worth noting, briefly, that the movie might also be considered one of the best coming-of-age movies in a long time because of the stellar chemistry the Netflix's comedy's cast shared. It's no surprise the real-life Sandler family has amazing chemistry together on screen, but lead star Sunny Sandler also shines opposite every character she has a scene with. It's her brilliant chemistry with actress Samantha Lorraine (Lydia) that carries the movie. And I certainly can't forget to mention the comedy that stems from her scenes opposite Sarah Sherman (who plays Rabbi Rebecca).

While I was always excited to watch the flick after seeing its trailer, the the full movie exceeded my expectations. As a self-proclaimed expert on coming-of-age fare, I can say with full confidence that this movie is one of the best the genre has offered in a long time. Sure, it’s not as melancholy or introspective as some of its peers are, but it makes up for that with its hilarious and heartwarming portrayal of teenage girlhood. 

You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah is available to stream with an active Netflix subscription. After watching, make sure to check out the 2023 Netflix movie release schedule to stay up to date on what’s coming to the streaming service.  

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