‘Donny’s Bar Mitzvah’ Review: A Rude and Raunchy Coming-of-Age

The year is 1998. Donny Drucker (Steele Stebbins) is 13 years old and his family has thrown him a glitzy, red-carpet-worthy bar mitzvah, inviting classmates and relatives to toast his newfound adulthood. Shot entirely like camcorder footage from the point of view of a hired videographer, Jonathan Kaufman’s debut film, which he wrote and directed, has all the potential to be endearing and nostalgic, even if it’s slim on plot. Instead, “Donny’s Bar Mitzvah” — which is littered with chaotic party scenes of horny, dysfunctional attendees — oscillates between offensive and offensively unamusing.

There’s little effort made to make the film actually look and feel like the ’90s. While it’s in 4:3 aspect ratio, the staticky old-school filter fails to lose its Instagram-era veneer. Beyond that, its tone-deaf comedy suggests an era when crude jokes about sensitive issues like race and addiction were commonplace and therefore acceptable.

The only semblance of narrative cohesion here is the ridiculous undercover investigation of a literal “party pooper” (a side-plot that involves the cast’s biggest name, Danny Trejo), but otherwise “Donny’s Bar Mitzvah” is so scattered with half-baked skits that it’s not hard to imagine a better, funnier version of this movie made by an actual 13-year-old. It’s only 79 minutes long, but this critic spent the entire time sitting through gross-out gags hoping to laugh just once.

Donny’s Bar Mitzvah
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 19 minutes. Rent or buy on Amazon and Apple TV.

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