How You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah Survived Hollywood Rejection

Although Cohen backed out of having a bat mitzvah at 13, they did have some experience as a camp counselor. That probably came in handy, since Koplovitz Dutton describes the set of You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah as teeming with teens. “It was kind of like summer camp, actually. The kids were having a lot of fun, and they all had this group TikTok so we could see in real time, even when they weren’t on set, how much fun they were having, which was very sweet.”

The New York Times once called Morgenstein the man with “His Finger on the Pulse of What Girls Watch,” which is a little creepy-sounding, and also a tough title to maintain. These days, he says he trusts his gut, his team—and sometimes the input of their teenage kids—to guide the way. “I want things to both feel very authentic and very aspirational,” he says. “And I feel like this movie walks that line well, where it feels somewhat edgy for the age group, in a way that’s appropriate without really crossing any lines—and in a way that has appeal to kids who are in the demo but not alienate their parents if they choose to watch it with them.”

You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah has a few scenes that surprised me with their boldness—in particular, a menstrual calamity that might have been more at home in Sex Education than in a standard teen movie. “It was important to us to make sure that it wasn’t perceived as [the girl] being made fun of in any way,” says Koplovitz Dutton. She also mentions a decision early on to cut a cabal of mean girls from the script, in favor of inclusivity. “Mean girls had become a trope unto themselves, so I think it was important to all of us to give them a more modern take.” That also goes for the portrayal of Judaism: The rabbi (played by SNL’s Sarah Sherman) is a whirling hipster dervish in a hand-knit multicolored yarmulke who likes to give serious speeches through song or while walking backward on a treadmill.

“We wanted to lean in to the specificity,” Koplovitz Dutton says, “but also focus on the coming-of-age themes that anyone can relate to.” I ask the duo about the 2022 movie Purple Hearts, also produced by Alloy, which couldn’t be culturally further from You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah. Some backlash greeted Purple Hearts, which features a marriage of convenience between a diabetic singer and a troubled Marine—but not enough to stop the movie from hitting number one on Netflix.

“They’re both kind of underserved audiences,” she says of the military romance and the bat mitzvah tale. “I think Purple Hearts really spoke to heartland themes, and with Bat Mitzvah, it’s certainly not a saturated market, the bat mitzvah genre!” Koplovitz Dutton tells me she likes to keep in mind something that teen-movie auteur John Hughes once said: “When you’re 16, you’re more serious than you’ll ever be again.” For young people, she continues, “the stakes feel incredibly high, and so whether we’re making a comedy or drama or love story, we want to honor their experience in a way that feels genuine and real. That is the uniting factor in all of our films: We want to get that right.”

Alloy currently has 26 entertainment projects in development, and Morgenstein hopes the list will soon include a sequel to You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah. “We would love for there to be another movie in this universe, and when the strikes are over, we’ll start getting specific about it.”

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