2023 is the year for female-centred coming of age teen movies, and I’m here for it. Earlier in the year we had Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and just recently there was the Disney Plus movie Slumber Party. I grew up with some really great coming of age movies, and I’m glad the new generation get to have stories that are more representative of their experience.
The movie follows Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler), who’s immensely excited about the approach of her bat mitzvah. Not because it’s a landmark coming of age process, but more for the sick afterparty she gets to throw after. I like how the movie addresses the different priorities between each generation. The adults share their bat mitzvah stories, and how they were more homely and less extravagant, which is a complete contrast to how things are now.
The best thing about it all for Stacy is that she gets to plan everything with her best friend Lydia (Samantha Lorraine). The pair have been inseparable since young and share everything with each other, except the truth about a certain boy. Stacy’s made it clear that she’s had a crush on Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman) since forever, but Lydia’s held back because she doesn’t want to step on her friend’s vibe. With Lydia’s parents getting divorced, they seem to compensate by getting her expensive things, which catches the interest of the cool crowd in school. While Stacy acts like she’s above it all, she’s actually deathly afraid that her best friend will trade up and leave her in the dust. Considering how naturally vivacious Stacy is, Lydia’s always been in her shadow, and now, it seems like things are changing.
Given Adam Sandler’s desire to work with friends in his movies, it was only a matter of time before he got his children involved. His real life daughters Sunny and Sadie Sandler play his daughters here. Some will cry nepotism, but it’s very clearly a family project. It’s actually really sweet to see all of them interact together in the movie, and because they are a real life family, the family dynamics feel authentic and natural. Also, it helps that Sunny Sandler is a star. She’s charismatic, funny, and does a fantastic job as the lead. Stacy’s a flawed character, as we would expect from a coming of age movie, but it is Sunny’s performance that makes her so relatable. It’s a star making role, and I won’t be surprised if she quickly gets snapped up to work on more projects.
It’s predictable in some ways, since it’s pretty clear that Andy isn’t the dreamboat Stacy envisioned in her head, and of course Stacy and Lydia will reconcile by the end of the movie, but it’s also fresh in a lot of ways. Instead of the usual mean big sister roles we get in these sort of movies, Ronnie (Sadie Sandler) is actually very supportive of Stacy. She also helps her parents navigate how to handle their relationship with Stacy, and articulates so well the struggles of being a teenage girl. The movie communicates Stacy’s desire to grow up and become a woman, while acknowledging that it’s not all fun and games. Having to deal with periods, high heels, the arduous task of shaving – it’s not easy.
But it can feel better if you’re surrounded by the people you love.
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It must run in the family, because Sunny Sandler has a knack for comedy just like her old man. She commits wholeheartedly to all the comedic bits, but also handles the more poignant moments with equal aplomb.
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