One of the key essentials pivotal for the success of every hit noughties comedy was in their names. From How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days to He’s Just Not That Into You, there was a zing and a ring to these titles. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah would have fit right in if it got made back when it was initially pitched, sometime in the early 2000s. Instead, it had to languish in development hell for two decades and get a Gen Z upgrade before going straight to Netflix’s top spot this September.
Directed by Sammi Cohen, written by Alison Peck, and produced by Adam Sandler, the idea for You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah originated even before its lead, Adam Sandler’s younger daughter, Sunny Sandler, was born. And now it is Sandler’s highest-rated film on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film centred around the world of bat mitzvahs and teenage friendship, was initially conceived in the early 2000s by Alloy Entertainment, a powerhouse in the young adult entertainment industry. Founded by Leslie Morgenstein, Alloy has a history of packaging novels for publishers and adapting them into successful shows and movies, such as Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Alloy began by developing a book proposal for You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, authored by Amanda Stern (under the pseudonym Fiona Rosenbloom). It garnered positive reviews upon its 2005 release. Despite the book’s success, Alloy faced challenges in bringing the story to Hollywood. Several attempts to adapt it, including an early version for Nickelodeon, met rejection across town.
The film’s perceived niche appeal due to its focus on Jewish experiences and the nuances of adolescent friendships hindered its journey to the big screen.
“It went everywhere around town, and everyone passed,” Elysa Koplovitz Dutton, Alloy’s film division head, told Vanity Fair. “It takes real perseverance to get these movies made, and when you have something that people might perceive as niche, you have to make sure it is relatable and funny and well crafted.”
“We wanted to lean into the specificity but also focus on the coming-of-age themes that anyone can relate to,” explained Koplovitz Dutton.
However, the film’s fortune changed when Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions got involved. With his daughters, Sunny and Sadie, cast as the protagonist Stacy and her reel-life older sister Ronnie Friedman, the project gained momentum. Adam Sandler’s active participation in shaping the story and his commitment to the project propelled it forward. He was also instrumental in selecting second-time director Cohen to helm the film.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah may not appeal to everyone, especially the older crowd, but it has found its audience on Netflix, so all’s OK.