BETTER NATE THAN EVER – A Review by Cynthia Flores
This coming-of-age movie is based on the award-winning book by the same name written by Tim Federle. He is the man that created the hugely popular High School Musical: The Series on TV. The book, he has stated, was semi-autobiographical about how he learned that he didn’t need to change to fit in. Instead, he simply needed to change his zip code. This is Federle’s feature film directorial debut, and he has packed a lot of fun and music into it.
In this upbeat and funny film Better Nate Than Ever, we meet thirteen-year-old Nate Foster (newcomer Rueby Wood). He has big dreams of making a life on the stages of Broadway. He has talent and a great voice, but he gets no respect at his local high school in a small Pittsburg town. He can’t even land a real part in the school play. Commiserating with his BFF Libby (Aria Brooks), she tells him of an open audition for a musical on Broadway. Nate’s dad Rex (Norbert Leo Butz), and mother, Sherrie (Michelle Federer), are away for the weekend Which gives him a perfect chance to make a break for it and go to the tryouts. Libby and Nate plan to take the bus into NYC, do the audition, and be back before anyone is wiser. What could possibly go wrong? You will have to watch the film to find out. Luckily for Nate, he has an actress Aunt named Heidi (Lisa Kudrow). She has been estranged from the family for a few years but comes to the rescue and helps him navigate tryouts and the big city.
Better Nate Than Ever is a fun film with vital lessons to share about bullying, being different, and staying true to your dreams. For some reason, the fact that Nate is gay is only hinted at and never made a huge sticking point. Even when his best friend Libby declares her undying devotion to him. There is a deliberate avoidance of the topic spoken about in the film with a wink, wink, and silly throwaway jokes. At first, I was unsure why the director chose to play it off this way, but it works. Instead of being an outcast at school for being gay, Nate is an outcast because of his passion for the art of musical theater. So just like some kids will nerd out about dinosaurs or science, Nate is a total theater nerd. He just wants the chance to prove he’s got what it takes to make it big.
I give Better Nate Than Ever 4-stars. It’s more than just a kids’ film; it’s a film for anyone that loves musicals and Broadway shows.
Directed by: Tim Federle
Written by: Tim Federle
Selig Rating: 4 Stars
Running Time: 91min
Comedy / Musical
Exclusive Release: Original Movie only on DIsney+ April 1st
Starring: Lisa Kudrow, Joshua Bassett, Rueby Wood, Aria Brooks
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.