Aaaah, another Adam Sandler movie. I honestly feel like it’s an unwritten law that we must all love Adam Sandler and it’s a civic duty to watch everything he does. I assume this because I have no reason to be watching a movie about tween girls getting into petty drama over a boy and throwing over-the-top Bat Mitzvah parties that cost more than my entire net worth. But I still watched it anyway — and I have mixed feelings.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is the story of Stacy getting into a falling out with her BFF Lydia over a crush and other middle school-related things that we’ve all unfortunately experienced to some extent. The film dives deep into female friendship, the woes of being a young girl at school and at home, and what goes into having a Bat Mitzvah.
I am clearly not the target audience for such a film, but I finished the movie feeling a bit conflicted. On one hand, I really enjoyed the realistic reminder of what it was like to be a girl in middle school. It was heartwarming and groan-worthy to see the characters go through very real scenarios of feeling left out of friend groups, dealing with understanding teachers, and feeling conflicted about your parents (although Adam Sandler played a pretty likeable dad).
But I think this film was also a bit problematic and far removed from the overall experiences of a Jewish teen in the United States. While they did discuss the importance of understanding the meaning of your Haftarah portion and giving back to the community, I found myself pretty concerned about every other aspect of Jewish culture represented in the film. And it left me feeling like a bit of a party pooper.
Let me explain, though.
Adam Sandler Might Be Out of Touch With The Rest of America
Stacy goes to a massive middle school and Hebrew school that both look like they are an ivy league college campus. She seems to only be surrounded by other Jewish teens all the time, never having to deal with feeling ostracized or misunderstood for being Jewish like most of us did growing up. The Bat Mitzvah parties they show look like they cost about $250,000 minimum, complete with an over-the-top DJ, a glamourous banquet hall, and perfectly curated themes.
Here are some reviews that echo my concerns over portraying Jews this way during a time when antisemitism is on the rise.
“I know it’s a stereotype that Jews are rich and successful, and yes, there is truth to it, TO AN EXTENT!!! I live in a community where there are some extremely wealthy people, but not EVERYONE lives in a mansion! Literally every kid in the movie was loaded, which pissed me off, because it’s not realistic, and yes, it is a stereotype in a movie meant to ‘publicize’ Jewish life,” wrote one self-proclaimed “14-year-old Jewish girl.”
Added an older Jewish viewer: “DJ Schmuley is a terrible stereotype of Israeli people — being a person that hits on random women, hides his bald spot and has no money making skills. This is entirely untrue and other various stereotypes exist in the movie as well (Latinx people for example). Haven’t we moved past this!”
“The movie completely misses the opportunity to educate non-Jewish Americans about what our religion and culture is like,” said another reviewer who also felt offended. “In a time when antisemitism is rampant, we could have really used a movie that showed what Judaism is really like in America. Instead, it played into stereotypes and went with blown-out-of-proportion inauthenticities.”
Of course, Adam Sandler is rich. He doesn’t have to deal with most of the things us regular Jewish people deal with in our largely un-Jewish communities. If you look past this, you’ll simply be watching a “coming of age” movie about friendship, crushes, growing up, and realizing what it really means to be a good person. And trust me, there were definitely some touching moments.
Is it worth watching? I’d say yes if you are a teen looking to watch something relatable or a parent hoping to understand your kid. I’d say no if you are hoping for a laugh riot or are easily offended by Jewish stereotypes.
Review By the Numbers:
Adam Sandler — 4/10
If you’re hoping to just watch Adam Sandler be Adam Sandler, you’ll definitely be let down. He plays Stacy’s dad in the movie and is largely not present for the majority of the run time. When he is on screen, however, I found him to be a very likeable dad with a lot of okay zingers that made me smile here and there.
Acting — 8/10
I saw the movie catching flack for this, with some reviewers even claiming Sandler should be getting a “razzie” for his performance. But I honestly found the acting to be one of the most redeeming parts. The teenagers were actually good at acting, which is something I don’t normally believe. I found them to be believable in their mannerisms, behaviors, interactions, emotions, and even how they presented themselves. It’s not an Oscar-worthy masterpiece by any means, but I really did appreciate how the tweens were truly tweens, not trying to be any older or younger.
Jewishness — 5/10
It’s odd to give a movie about a Bat Mitzvah such a low score for Jewishness but I think the movie missed the mark in a lot of regards. It was great to see Jewish teens represented on screen in a way that was relatable to most teenagers, but it was also pretty baffling to see them in this weird and almost dream-like Sunday school that looked almost like a resort with classrooms. I really was not sure what to make of it but it really took me out of the scenes. I also feel like it’s not the greatest to represent Jews as super rich jerkwads who spend half a million bucks on their 13 year olds at this time.
How Badly I Wanted to Be Adam Sandler’s Daughter — 8/10
Bro, I would have killed to have this Adam Sandler as my dad.