You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah isn’t the worst movie to come out of Happy Madison Productions, but it isn’t worth watching either. This flat coming-of-age story suffers from its dull narrative and even duller lead. While the movie does present interesting commentary on cultural identity and maturity, it doesn’t do enough to stick out against the enormous catalog of stories that make up the genre. If you are thinking of watching this movie, there are better options you should be watching instead.
Stacy is prepping for her Bat Mitzvah and obsesses over the party that will define the rest of her life. But her desire to be popular put her life in a downward spiral. The big defining moment she has always dreamed of is turning into a nightmare. Can she learn from her m istakes and find a place where she belongs?
The film earns a couple of genuine laughs and makes some interesting points about religious, cultural, and personal identity, but doesn’t go deep enough. Stacy and her peers have a general indifference to the traditions as they focus on relationships, status, and social media. At first, Stacy finds preparing for her Bat Mitzvah as a chore, something she needs to do to have her party. There are moments in the movie where she even questions whether she is Jewish because she has to or because it is who she is. I love this idea of heritage and a modern personal identity clashing because it is such a tangible human experience. This ceremony is coming to her at a pivotal point in her development when she is still trying to figure out who she is and where she stands in her society. She wants to be treated like a grown-up, she wants to be popular, and she wants the party, but doesn’t understand where Judaism fits in that. She doesn’t resent her Jewish identity, it just doesn’t take precedence in what defines her yet. It is only after talking to her elders and learning from her mistakes that she learns to value this identity and the work she puts towards Bat Mitzvah.
The problem I have with Stacy’s transformation is that it comes too suddenly. The build-up to her grand gesture feels forced like it was done because the movie needed a happy ending and not because Stacy learns from her mistakes. I would have liked to see her connect with the teachings, or even find value in the stories told to her. There are some very cool moments where her elders talk to her about being Jewish or being a woman, but the movie makes it seem like she comes to her transformation on her own after she hits bottom. This makes these moments feel meaningless in the grand scheme, even though they were often the better parts of the movie. But, this could be a bias of wanting there to be a lot less Stacy in this film.
I liked that they didn’t make her a perfect, quirky, artsy girl as you see throughout the genre, and I like that she makes terrible decisions, but her character falls flat. Her obsession with being popular consumes her to the point where she becomes a terrible person, but she learns from her mistakes and grows as a person. That part is fine. The problem is that she ruins her best friend’s Bat Mitzvah over a petty moment she created, and we’re supposed to forgive her because the script says so. I get kids make mistakes, but there is a line between being terrible and messing up. I don’t think the grand gesture was enough to earn the apology, but I might just be a bitter old man yelling at clouds.
The other reason this movie doesn’t work is that the lead lacks the charisma to carry this movie. I found scenes involving Stacy to be boring, which is a problem in a movie where she is the main character. Don’t get me wrong, the performance isn’t terrible. I have seen enough bad movies to know that it could have been a lot worse, but it also isn’t worth sitting through. I know this movie is going to get hate because of the Nepotism, but I don’t think a better actor could have made the movie better. At least it’s better than After Earth.
As a movie that was made to fill up Netflix’s catalog, it’s fine. It tries to tell a story, has passable acting, and makes a few solid points about identity. There are definitely worse options available. You can watch You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah on Netflix, but your time is better spent elsewhere.