So I was pleasantly surprised by this show, last night, while still recuperating. Netflix has gone downhill, there's been very little on Netflix that's been interesting since Ozark, I was about to cancel it. And unfortunately, Adam Sandler movies have mostly been a disappointment since his glory days in the 90s.
But this one was a surprise - and showcased the talent of his entire family, particularly daughter, Sunny, who blew me away with her acting skills, so young - after a little more refinement as she gets older, we may be seeing a budding superstar, here, in Sunny Sandler.
Also talented was Sunny Sandler's real-life older sister, Sadie, who rolled off deadpan funny lines like a pro, and dispensed much needed experienced advice to both little sister and parents along the way, after her own bout with 7th-graditis.
But I think my favorite characters may have been the Bubbes (Jewish grandmothers) - whom I can't find a picture of yet - but always listen to the Bubbes, young ones - they may be blunt and hilarious, but they're actually dispensing sage advice to you at the same time.
Not the best thing I've ever seen, by any means, but after a few detours, this is the sort of movie you'd think a grown-up Adam Sandler with kids would now make - a family comedy, but still with the Sandler-esque quirky characters and WTF moments in it that we know and love.
Because the best part of Adam Sandler movies are usually the random quirky characters in the background, who suddenly walk up and say like one line and steal the show, either so random you can't help but laugh (which is actually Adam Sandler's nod to Mel Brooks, but with a Sandler twist), or so simply profound that it shuts everyone up lol.
It's a coming of age story, with a clear nod to Judy Blume's "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" - only it also educates you on Jewish traditions, if you're not familiar with them, but in modern day.
So men/boys, this one's NOT just for girls because it is still Adam Sandler of course :)
But it's nice to see Adam Sandler actually wearing his yarmulke, embracing his being Jewish as a central part of the story, now, too.
I mean, he already did somewhat, with "The Chanukah Song" and "Eight Crazy Nights," but in this one, he's showcasing what else is great in Jewish culture, besides just Hanukkah and weddings! lol
So the movie has a 95% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 72% audience score, and it's interesting, reading the audience score. I found that the self-proclaimed Jewish girls seemed to split on it - IMO, more conservative Jewish girls took offense, while liberal Jewish girls could relate more and found it hilarious - because the one thing you've got to remember is it IS Adam Sandler, former SNL alum, after all - it's a parody of real life, not real life.
Now, of course, I'm not Jewish, but being that I grew up in suburban Cincinnati in a high school that was 20% Jewish, I was able to relate to some degree, but I learned so much more, too.
And that's the great thing about it, you don't have to be Jewish to get it, but they do educate you on some great things about Jewish culture and the celebrations on becoming a man or a women at age 12 or 13 known as "Bar Mitzvahs" for boys and "Bat Mitzvahs" for girls.
For instance, as a result of my school friends, I already knew that these Jewish rites of passage are not JUST about changing bodies and reproductivity - they're about taking responsibility as an adult and choosing what type of Judaism you want to follow for yourself.
And I knew about the prayer recitations and canting that are done at them, but I didn't know about the "mitzvah" projects that are required to be completed and pass before the rabbit gives the green light for you to have a bar/bat mitzvah.
Because in fact,"Mitzvah" means "an act of empathy or kindness (in God's service)." in Hebrew.
So in other words, you must choose a community service to engage in and complete, as well as memorizing the Hebrew prayers and canting you will perform at your Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the temple or synagogue, before you "pass" and are allowed to have an official, temple-recognized bar/baht mitzvah :)
So the bar/baht mitzvah is really in two parts - the first part of reciting prayers and singing cantations are done in Hebrew are done at the temple/synagogue in front of friends and family, as well as attestation by the rabbi that you are ready and recognized officially as a man or a woman in the Jewish faith.
(The rabbi is standing right next to them as they read the haftarah from the Torah, ready to rescue if they struggle.)
The second part is the afterparty - food, music, games, dancing - and everyone attends, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, young and old.
And yes, they dance the Horah and lift the just bar/bat mitzvahed boy or girl on the chair, just like at Jewish weddings :)
However, in the 80s, I remember mostly the boys having bar mitzvahs - but I don't remember a single girl having a bat mitzvahs - just a regular birthday party or sleepover, and nothing as lavish as today.
I also remember that in my community, most Christians didn't attend the temple part and I'm not sure why, whether if it's because they chose not to or weren't invited.
I get the sense now, though, looking back, that Christians etc. were actually invited, but they rarely came to that part, so maybe Jewish families just sort of started assuming non-Jewish folk wouldn't come anyway?
Nowadays, girls are celebrated just as much as boys and Christians show up to both temple and the afterparty, which is cool to see, because I remember my Jewish female friends lamenting that they didn't get a big party like the boys did.
In fact, Adam Sandler's line about his character's bar mitzvah - which is actually a joke, I'm sure it wasn't THAT bad - but it WAS actually true for the girls, not the boys, in my community:
“Listen, when I got bar mitzvah-ed, we had a party in Grandma’s basement. We all split like this giant matzo ball. That was the fun. You know what the theme was? Being Jewish. Just practice your prayers and write your speech already.”
"That's why we fought the Nazis? So you could have a mojito bar?"
This is said when Stacy reaches an all-time out-of-control moment where she is caught by her (female) rabbi, both kissing a boy at temple and is caught doing her mitzvah at a retirement center, just so she can be close to that same boy, who visits his grandmother there, selfishly negating the entire point of her mitzvah project.
Not that Rabbi Rebecca is uncool, she handled that very well - Rabbi Rebecca is one of the funniest and coolest characters on the show.
And she delivers the most profound, but likely true, piece of spiritual advice regarding why bad things happen to good people if there's a God?
And that is "God is random."
That was the hardest thing for me to learn, when I left the charismatic evangelical Christian faith I was raised in, helped along by a book by Rabbi Kushner that I read years ago, which clearly Rabbi Rebecca took a page from.
Essentially, the book purports that God neither does nor doesn't cause these bad things to happen to you, and they don't even necessarily happen as consequence or punishment for misdeeds.
If not natural consequence, then bad things happening are often either due to choices other people make out of the free-will choice God gave us all or simply just ... random.
Randomness is a hard concept for us all to grasp. We like cause and effect, we like someone to blame.
But sometimes, there really isn't anyone to blame, bad things happen, and the bible says the rain will fall on both the just and the unjust sometimes.
A less wise, but still quirky character is DJ Schmuley - mostly just because of his name - in a very Mel Brooks sort of way, a bit like Rabbi Schmultz? lol
Speaking of which, yes, girls - you will have to revisit your 7th grade trauma, I'm sorry - but it ends well?
I'm sure all girls already know this, but boys may not know - while boys often have the worst time of bullying in high school, for girls - it's 7th grade.
That is because a little known fact to men is that all 7th grade girls are at least temporarily sociopaths. No, really ;) lol
Due to some combination of hormonal imbalances and becoming aware of social groups and where they fit in them, the social strata branching off into various levels of popularity, girls in particular become extremely selfish drama queens, totally self-absorbed, whose favorite pastime appears to be mostly publicly humiliating other girls to make themselves feel less insecure.
There's no limit what girls will do to themselves, and to their supposed best friends, just to fit in with the popular girls.
This phase is like an arc that starts about age 12 to and levels off at around 17 - but from about 13 to 14 or 15, we're straight up impossible to be around, I freely admit lol.
Now, many of us girls later go on to have remorse and cringe over this behavior at some point in life later - and many girls don't.
In fact, I know some girls that never did leave this phase!
As for me, I was the sort that usually defended anyone bullied, the underdog, which of course often made me a target, and was sometimes bullied myself outright just for being a bit different/had less money/was why.
HOWEVER, I also went along with some shit the popular girls did, trying to fit in, or I should've spoke up/done more.
I also became very smart-mouthed, disrespectful, and snappy as the girls in this movie do, along with testing my boundaries and independence, too, so don't imagine I was any sort of a saint. I had to issue my share of apologies later, too, believe me. I just never bullied anyone, usually stood up for them, but sometimes just stood there frozen, and sometimes snapped crappy things at even my best friends just because I felt badly (and vice versa).
Now, at my junior high, the popular girls at my very affluent junior high were next-level mean girl with the pranks and invites of less popular girls and poorer girls to torment them (I was middle class so kind of in between). I remember they'd literally stand at the door and check your tags on your clothes when you walked in to make sure they were truly designer rather than knock-offs, no joke, they were merciless and I know some girls that to this day that never got over the bullying from junior high.
At least in this film, during the floating maxi-pad part, the girls eventually got over their frozen moment (a common ailment with bullying) to somewhat defend her from the boys?
I wondered how realistic that was, though - most 12-year-old girls , when there's bullying going on, either jump on and help bully, laugh along to fit in, or just freeze - but they rarely defend.
Like I said, I did a couple of times, but that now made me the target, so I stopped doing that.
You'll be disappointed to learn that it wasn't until 2019 that I learned the best way to deal with being a bystander to a workplace bullying situation - and that is always approach the victim, not the bully - lest you become the bully's new target ;)
I'm a slow social learner, I guess, and I can't tell you the amount of times, either online or in real life, I intervened with bullies and took them on because I knew I could make them look stupid, and thus, became the target.
I always knew this would happen, but I felt compelled to help, and stupidly thought I could handle the backlash every time, but after it went on too long and didn't blow over, not so much - - and worse, almost invariably, the original bullying victim will almost always jump on the side of the ir bully, now coming after you, just happy the heat was off them now lol.
This happened for the last time in 2019 - and though I've only run across a bullying situation once since (online), I approached the victim, not the bully, and it worked out just fine. (I know, duh, right?)
Back to teenage years, high school was much better, and though it was still a rigid, money-focused group, there was less public bullying and less general meanness. There weren't apologies issued yet by most, but they were less mean. The popular group changed hands, too - though still wealthy, the smart, funny kids became popular instead of the plastic, pretty girls lol.
I understand, though, for boys, the arc is different - the bullying starts around 12 and just keeps going until college? Can't even imagine, poor boys.
The upswing for the boys, though, is tt tends to be physical bullying, which is not okay, but something can be done about it by staff. Girls, on the other hand, are much more passive aggressive in their bullying so as to do things the staff doesn't see or can't do anything about.
But it's not the bullies that usually got in trouble anyway, it was their victims, when they decided to punch back or get back, right?
Now in this film, there are no victims when all is said and done - revenge for slights blows up into a war until everybody looks like a shit lol.
It shows very clearly how there's popular, there's the wannabe populars and what they're willing to do (to themselves or others) to get it, and the various levels of social strata that form, rightly or wrongly and the hurts along the way - so I think most of us cringe when looking back on those days, except maybe the most popular bullies who never knew it was like to ever be on the receiving end of that?
But at the same time, I feel sorry for them now because they had to always fit the mold, never leave it, never try anything new or different because they knew it'd set them apart and they'd lose popular points :(
But everything turns out all right in the end - BFFs apologize and make up, they actually talk - well, argue at first, but talk it out as is the mature, new millenium way to do things.
Back in my day, before there was Oprah, before therapy and learning better communication was encouraged, you never said things like "I miss you" or sometimes even "I'm sorry" when you fell out with friends.
You just looked at each other in class, after the teacher or someone did something ridiculous, because you knew the other person would get it, and at most, we might say "We good now?" after a good laugh.
It worked, at the time, but this way is way better :)
Because even though there is something to be said for letting bygones be bygones, you don't just smooth it over with still sore spots and pretending either - you actually resolve the issues by talking through them.
AND Sunny finally chooses the obvious choice, Mateo, which I pegged right from the beginning, though Mateo is literally a foot shorter than most of the girls, as boys often are at that age.
Let that be a lesson to you, girls - stabbing a friend or family member in the back, either over a boy or popularity - or conversely, exacting revenge on that friend or family who stabbed you?
It never ends well for either one of you, it belittles you both and thus you will feel even worse.
And the kind of boy, or the kind of "cool" kids, who would ever encourage you to do so?
They are never worth it.
All you can do is walk away and hope everyone comes to their senses and grows up someday.
True, as mentioned above, some never do, justify it, blame you for what they did - but at least you didn't demean yourself in the process, right?
The power of remorse, forgiveness, and the social responsibilities/awareness and better communication that come with being an adult, or at least should come with being an adult - worth a watch :)