13: THE MUSICAL was originally on Broadway. It is a story about that special time in a young Jewish boy’s or girl’s life. At age 13 (12 for girls), the Bar Mitzvah boy stands in front of the entire synagogue to sing a portion from the Torah, gives a meaningful speech, and then has a “kick-ass” party for all their friends. It takes months of training and hard work. Most just remember their “cool” celebratory party. And now, the Bar Mitzvah boy is considered a “man.” No pressure. 

This film had some amazing songs and dances that featured a talented ensemble. They were expressive beyond their young years. The music and lyrics pushed the story forward each time and added to the magic of a “Broadway musical” production. The plot included heavier topics, such as divorce, finding who you are, moving away from your hometown, making friends, and forgiveness. Heavy for a supposed light and breezy movie dealing with middle school angst. 

13: THE MUSICAL’s biggest fault (some will say) is that it was very one-dimensional and, at times, shallow. Perhaps, the young Bar Mitzvah boy Evan (Eli Golden) should have dug deeper to peel those layers away. And the same could be said for his Mom (Debra Messing) and his Grandmother (Rhea Perlman). Here’s my take… I didn’t care. I enjoyed this stroll through memory lane for my son and daughter’s big day. I remember how difficult it was for Aaron to maneuver through the “traditional” stuff to get to his party of a lifetime. This movie even took me “waaay” back to my Bat Mitzvah and party. It meant everything to me as a young woman (As well as planning my own first kiss with my boyfriend, Cliff). Milestone moments for sure. 

13: THE MUSICAL offered great, sound advice for tweens. It was told from their perspective. There were strong, sound, seconds everyone should hear. It is not “deep.” It is not meant to be. Enjoy it for what it is. I know I did. 

13: THE MUSICAL is available to stream on NETFLIX.

Esta Rosevear

Esta Rosevear has been a Theatre Arts teacher and director for 35+ years, published Children’s author of the Rebecca series, and is passionate about playing her violin, walking, gardening, and reading murder mysteries.

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