“13: The Musical,” a plucky crowd-pleaser in regards to the stress to placed on a blowout bar mitzvah, opens with the younger Manhattanite Evan Goldman (Eli Golden) raging at his mother and father’ final social gathering foul. They’ve divorced, forcing the boy and his mother (Debra Messing) to shift their lives — and his pending bash — to the house of his grandmother (Rhea Perlman) in Walkerton, Ind., a city so small that their arrival triples its Jewish inhabitants. However, the social-climbing eighth grader is decided to pack his dance ground, even when it means enmeshing himself as a love adviser to the college’s hottest youngsters (JD McCrary and Lindsey Blackwell) and backing away from his preliminary mates (Gabriella Uhl and Jonathan Lengel) when he discovers that they’re dorks.
Briefly, Evan is anxious that his faith will make him an outsider, particularly as one classmate, a terrifically humorous shallow snit performed by Frankie McNellis, warns the opposite college students that bar mitzvahs are “the place they make you discuss backwards and everybody will get circumcised.” However as soon as the movie checks off the anticipated metropolis versus nation gripes about bagels (none), cows (too many) and the unnerving rural silence (“How can anybody sleep with all this quiet!”), the director Tamra Davis goals to promote the movie’s younger viewers on an inclusive imaginative and prescient of America that shortly soothes any apprehensions of antisemitism, in addition to many of the different anxieties of adolescence. The screenwriter Robert Horn not solely buffs the bullying subplots from the e-book of his 2008 Broadway musical (which he co-wrote with Dan Elish) till Evan now not has to punch a soccer jock within the nostril — he’s made the tensions so subterranean that sure dramatic plot factors barely make sense.
Nonetheless, Davis is a veteran at showcasing youthful singing expertise. (Her earlier credit embody the Britney Spears car “Crossroads,” the hip-hop cult comedy “CB4” and the Hanson music video for “MMMBop.”) She and the cinematographer Adam Santelli flip the body right into a shoe field diorama for the dynamic forged, who belt and dance whereas staring immediately on the digicam. Whereas each picture is as vivid and colourful as a brand new field of crayons, the youngsters themselves by no means come throughout as synthetic, thanks partly to Jamal Sims’ naturalistic however crisp choreography, which emphasizes stomps and leans and long-legged strides.
The songs, by Jason Robert Brown, aren’t dangerous both, significantly a bluesy quantity crooned by the soccer squad (“Dangerous Information”), a catty rock ballad backed by a marching band (“Alternative”) and a new-for-the-screen, finger-snapping charmer the place Evan entices his schoolmates to sneak into an R-rated horror film (“The Bloodmaster”) — a gory flick that traumatizes him and the category excess of anything occurring onscreen.
13: The Musical
Rated PG. Working time: 1 hour 31 minutes. Watch on Netflix.