Critics are loving You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, the new Netflix comedy featuring Adam Sandler and Idina Menzel as the parents of a teenager (Adam’s real-life daughter Sunny Sandler, 14) who falls out with her best friend over a boy as her titular celebration approaches. (Adam’s 17-year-old daughter Sadie also co-stars.)
“A coming-of-age comedy that sidesteps simple nostalgia, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah finds fresh humor in adolescent anxiety — and suggests a bright future for star Sunny Sandler,” reads the critical consensus on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, where the Sammi Cohen-directed film (written by Alison Peck and based on Fiona Rosenbloom’s 2005 novel of the same name) has a 95% approval rating.
That is (Adam) Sandler’s best Rotten Tomatoes score of all time, besting recent critical darling dramas like 2022’s Hustle (93%), 2017’s The Meyerowitz Stories (92%) and 2019’s Uncut Gems (91%), with 43 reviews thus far tallied.
Not that Sandler is looking at any of them.
“I don’t sit and read them,” Sandler told Yahoo Entertainment back in 2019 when we asked about the delirious praise for the anxiety-inducing thriller Uncut Gems, which many critics called his best performance to date.
It’s easy to understand why. Despite becoming a cult comedy hero for a wave of popular '90s comedies including Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer, the Saturday Night Live alum also became a critical punching bag for such films as Little Nicky (22%), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (14%), Grown Ups (10%) and Jack and Jill (3%).
“It's been going on so long that it doesn’t really bother me anymore,” Sandler told us. “When I was young, and I read my first couple reviews and how hard they came at me and hated my stuff, that was shell-shocking. Because I was young and excited and then I got hit with how terrible my stuff was.
“But I guess I just believed differently. So I just keep doing my thing.”
Not that Sandler isn’t aware of the upturn in his critical notices. In 2018 he released a Netflix comedy special called 100% Fresh, a nod to the often rocky reception to his work on Rotten Tomatoes. It scored a 90% fresh rating there.
Indeed, there’s been a clear paradigm shift when it comes to the relationship between critics and Sandler. Every the time the 56-year-old actor seems to go near a drama, the reviewers go wild, dating back to his melancholic performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2002 ensemble Punch-Drunk Love. The raves have ramped up more recently, particularly with Uncut Gems (which many pundits thought should have earned the actor his first Oscar nomination, but as his Waterboy co-star Kathy Bates told him, “You was robbed!!”) and Hustle (for which he scored his first Screen Actors Guild nomination, but suffered another Oscars snub).
“If somebody wants me for something and it’s good, I get very excited,” Sandler said of his dramatic streak. “I don't know how to go about getting the stuff, but I’ve lucked out.”
Sandler has signed three lucrative deals with Netflix, the first a four-movie deal worth a reported $250 million in 2014, which was then extended in 2017 and again in 2020.
Beyond Hustle, the actor has turned out mostly broad comedies for the streamer — including The Ridiculous Six (2015), The Do-Over (2016), Sandy Wexler (2017), Hubie Halloween (2020), the mega-hit Murder Mystery movies (2019 and 2023) — and many of them have been savaged by critics. But they continue to rack up millions upon millions of views for Netflix and have solidified Sandler’s status as one of the world’s most beloved stars.
Comedies for mass audiences, dramas for critics and film buffs: the former Opera Man is making everyone happy right now.
With Bat Mitzvah, he seems to have hit the Venn diagram.
And hey, maybe he is reading the reviews for this one. Not as an actor long scorned by critics, but as a proud dad seeing the glowing response to his daughters’ starring roles.