By Nate Bloom
Last week, Netflix “popped” the news that on August 25 they would premiere the original feature film “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah.”
It’s mostly a comedic coming-of-age story: best friends Stacy (played by SUNNY SANDLER, 14, ADAM SANDLER’s daughter) and Lydia (Samantha Lorraine) are planning “epic” bat mitzvah parties.
However, their plans and their friendship are shaken when they both “crush on” the very cute Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman), a Hebrew school classmate.
Hoffman and Lorraine have just a few credits and like many “newbie” actors, I just couldn’t run down if they are Jewish.
Back to the plot: Stacy catches Lydia kissing Andy and declares their friendship is over. But she goes further: she anonymously spreads nasty rumors about Lydia.
Stacy’s sister (SADIE SANDLER, 17, Adam’s other daughter) and Stacy’s mother (IDINA MENZEL, 52) step in and encourage Stacy to make peace with Lydia. Her mother and her father (Adam Sandler, 56) warn Stacy that her behavior could result in her bat mitzvah being cancelled. (Sadie and Sunny’s real-life mother, JACKIE SANDLER, 48, has a small role).
This film is based on a 2005 young adult novel of the same name. The novel got pretty good reviews. The author is AMANDA STERN, 50ish. Under the pen name Fiona Rosenbloom, she has written three young adult novels. All of them are heavily “Jewish-themed” stories featuring young Jewish characters. She also wrote a memoir, “Little Panic” (2018) about her own dramatic youth (divorced parents who were very different people).
“You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” was directed by Sammi Cohen, a young woman with some TV episode directing credits. It’s reasonable to assume she’s Jewish.
Cohen was recently interviewed by Tudum, a Netflix-affiliated website. Here are excerpts: “[The movie] gives us insight to this very Jewish coming-of-age experience but speaks to broader themes about what it means to be a kid today. …I was excited to tell a Jewish coming-of-age story that explores formative female friendships and self-discovery in a real, messy, authentic way. Stacy and Lydia’s chemistry is undeniable. They’re little platonic soulmates. The kind of friends who make you feel nostalgic for your own.”
The only other big-budget bar or bat mitzvah movie I’m aware of is “Keeping Up with the Steins” (2004). It was a comedy that wasn’t funny because its central theme was very sad — too many Jewish families see a bar or bat mitzvah as just an excuse to throw a very expensive party.
It was a downer that wasted a good cast. It lost a lot of money. After this debacle, it took the presence of Adam Sandler as the film’s co-star and main producer to get another expensive “bat” movie made. Sandler has a big loyal fan base who will watch him in anything.
“You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” may be good. “The Wonder Years,” the ABC comedy TV series, ran two well-written bar mitzvah episodes. One aired during the series’ original run (1988-1993) and another aired on the “re-boot” series, which began running in 2021. Both episodes were “tasteful” and provided a bar mitzvah primer for their mostly non-Jewish audiences. These episodes also had some “appropriate” humor.
The gaggle of GOP candidates vying for the presidential nomination has dominated the political news lately. Only the indictments of one candidate have overshadowed the GOP nomination race. However, “quietly,” two Jews are sort-of running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“New Age spiritual” guru MARIANNE WILLAMSON, 71, isn’t a serious candidate. Her 2020 Presidential primary candidacy was perceived as a publicity stunt, as is her current candidacy.
Minnesota congressman DEAN PHILLIPS, 54, is another story. He was elected in 2018 and has easily won re-election since. He has voted with President Biden 100% of the time. However, last month Politico reported that he is considering running for the nomination, saying that it’s time for a younger generation to take power.
Phillips’ Jewish father was killed in Vietnam when he was a baby. His Jewish mother married EDDIE PHILLIPS, the owner of a big liquor company, and he adopted Dean. Eddie was the son of ESTHER PHILLIPS. Her pen name was “Dear Abby.” Dean ran the liquor company for some years after Eddie’s death. Then he struck out on his own and co-ran other, successful businesses. The best known is Talenti Gelato, which he co-founded.
It’s hard to figure out Phillips’ strategy in challenging President Biden. I guess if things go south for Biden, Phillips might be a kingmaker-of-sorts for a more prominent Democrat than himself.