Adam Sandler has dipped his toes in multiple genres as an actor and writer, from comedies to murder mysteries to thrillers. In his latest movie, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, he’s got the whole family involved for a coming-of-age dramedy. Sunny Sandler stars as Stacy Friedman, who becomes embroiled in middle school drama ahead of her bat mitzvah. Adam and Sadie Sandler play her father and older sister, respectively, with mom Jackie Sandler appearing as the mother of her BFF Lydia (Samantha Lorraine). The movie is now available to stream with a Netflix subscription, and the critics have some strong opinions on Sunny’s starring role.
You may be tempted to call “nepo baby” on Adam Sandler’s decision to cast Sunny Sandler as the movie's lead, but many critics are defending his choice, calling her “a revelation” in a flick that sounds like a solid option for the family this weekend. Let’s get into their reasoning, starting with CinemaBlend’s review of You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah. Mike Reyes rates the movie 3.5 stars out of 5, who calls the Jewish coming-of-age story a fresh and funny delight. He continues:
While You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah is squarely aimed for today’s youth, there’s enough common thread and influence from comedies of the past to draw even the most skeptical parent in. Director Sammi Cohen and screenwriter Alison Peck strike an effective balance between laughter and family sweetness, finding influence from John Hughes and Adam Sandler movies. The entire package is nailed down by the fact that the picture is literally a case of the family business at work.
Courtney Howard of Variety says the movie — which is an adaptation of Fiona Rosenbloom’s novel — captures the awkwardness of growing up in a relatable tale of self-reflection and acceptance. Howard also raves about the Sandler sisters, particularly Sunny, writing:
Real life Sandler sisters Sunny and Sadie — who plays Stacy’s sassy yet supportive older sister Ronnie — are compelling performers. The camera and dialogue capture the genuine, natural ease of their sisterly bond, whether they’re playfully teasing or placating one another. Sunny is a revelation, nimbly negotiating the quick-shifting tone of the material from silly to sincere. She can toss out a one-liner and flex her skills at slapstick, yet brings an insightful vulnerability to the role of an ordinary girl seeking the extraordinary.
Samantha Bergeson of IndieWire grades it a B, pondering if it’s still considered nepotism when Sunny Sandler’s casting works this well. Bergeson calls You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah a treat for the entire family. In the critic’s words:
[Sunny Sandler’s] natural banter (they are actually related, after all) with her on-screen and real life big sister Sadie Sandler, along with dad Adam Sandler, boasted by a relatable and authentic script from Alison Peck, turns her take on Stacy into a lovable tween icon in the making.
Matthew Jackson of AV Club writes that the project has both emotion and comedy and nicely bridges the gap between what Gen X and Gen Z find funny, creating a world where parents and their kids can all laugh together. Jackson grades it a B+, saying:
Movies like this begin and end with winning personalities, and as with so many Happy Madison joints, Bat Mitzvah gets that part right. Sunny Sandler, joined by her own older sister Sadie as Stacy’s older sister Ronnie, channels the awkward teenage years of actresses like Molly Ringwald and Natasha Lyonne before her, while adding her own Gen Z spin to the whole strange journey.
Pete Hammond of Deadline also notes how the movie can appeal to people of all ages, saying that it takes inspiration from John Hughes movies in a modern way that will stand out for a new generation, while feeling nostalgic to their parents. Hammond continues:
Give huge credit to Sunny Sandler for being the real deal, a hugely talented young performer who hits all the right notes and is a natural in front of the camera. This is no cheap trick of nepotism. It is hard to imagine a better choice for the role of Stacy, a girl going through big, life-changing moments and trying to hang on to what really ultimately matters. In the other major teen role as her bestie, Lorraine could not be better. Both make it look like they really have been friends their whole lives. Excellent casting here.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah seems to be drawing mostly positive responses on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 93% Fresh rating from 29 critics so far. Nepotism or not, Sunny Sandler seems to be a hit with those who have seen the movie, so if this Sandler family affair is one that you and your family might want to check out, it is now available to stream on Netflix.