“Better Nate Than Ever” Movie Review

Story posted April 11, 2022 in Arts & Entertainment by Cade Miller.

“Better Nate Than Ever” is a family comedy about a boy named Nate who follows his dream of becoming a Broadway star, but finds himself in some issues along the way. The movie was written and directed by Tim Federle and produced by Disney.

This is a classic Disney original, however, it seems to fit more into the old Disney Channel Original Movie type. It’s about a kid chasing their dreams and eventually succeeding — that’s what the Disney Channel Originals taught the viewers growing up. Now that Disney no longer makes the Originals, Disney Plus makes these types of films.

Nate (Rueby Wood) is from Pittsburgh and lives with his mom, dad and brother, Anthony (Joshua Bassett.) Nate is a musical theater-obsessed kid who has the dream of making it big. His best friend, Libby (Aria Brooks,) is his partner in crime and follows him into his theater dreams.

When Nate goes to school to see if he was cast as the main character for his school play, he is met with disappointment when he was cast as an ensemble member. That’s when Libby had the great idea of Nate auditioning for a Broadway show in New York City.

Both Nate and Libby run away to the Big Apple and audition for the show. While there, they run into Nate’s long-lost aunt, a former Broadway star, Heidi, (Lisa Kudrow.) She helps him along the way while he chases his dreams.

It’s a cute story with fun characters and lines, but there was an overbearingingly awkward topic the movie hinted at many times but never really explained. Nate seemed to be written to be gay, which would be the first time Disney had an openly gay child character in a movie.

The awkward part was it was never fully stated. Nate had very feminine aspects of his personality, and when Libby confessed her love for him, he said “I’m not like that.”

Meanwhile, Anthony was a track star in high school, getting ready for his last meet before he went to college. They showed how Anthony did not really accept his brother to be a bit more feminine.

With the way the writer made the character seem to fit this way, it was very odd that Nate’s sexuality was never fully stated. Nevertheless, this is a big moment in movie history for Disney.

The story as a whole could possibly capture a younger audience, but for adults, the storyline could seem a bit cringey and not enjoyable. It really made it awkward by not explicitly saying Nate was gay, but rather having the audience have to guess it.

This could be a very critical issue for the director. The way it’s written could have people offended with both Nate being gay, or not having him officially come out.

The acting was not very good either. Even the acting choices Joshua Bassett made were weird; weird timing, odd tone of voice. Lisa Kudrow, however, was brilliant. Playing the outcasted aunt who wanted to build her relationship with her nephew through theatre. She played it well.

The movie was very subpar. Nothing stood out to be absolutely terrible, yet nothing seemed to be fantastic. Hopefully, this film does not leave a permanent mark on Bassett’s and Kudrow’s names. They can be much more successful than this.

Rating: 2/5

Cade Miller is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email cam7095@psu.edu.