An amateur film review writer who likes pretty much every film genre.
Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster fantasizes about becoming a Broadway star. However, he struggles to even get roles in his high school play. But Libby, Nate’s friend, comes up with the idea of going to an audition for a musical in New York. When Nate’s parents leave for the weekend, the two of them decide to go on a journey that could help Nate achieve his dream.
Better Nate Than Ever didn’t receive a lot of promotion prior to its release on Disney+, a surprise considering the quality of the movie. Although it isn't spectacular, Better Nate has more good parts than bad parts. With that in mind, let us dive into what works and what doesn't.
1. The Cast Delivers a High-Octane Performance
Everybody in the movie does an excellent job in their respective roles. The biggest praise must go to Rueby Wood, who portrays Nate Foster. He brings a sense of naivete, ambition, and charm to his character that makes watching him fun.
The same can be said for the rest of the cast. Aria Brooks (who plays Libby), Lisa Kudrow (who plays Aunt Heidi), and Joshua Bassett (who plays Nate’s older brother, Anthony) bring energy to their respective roles, which results in an easy watch.
2. A Fun and Cute Story
Nate visiting a new place in order to achieve his dream is a fun adventure to experience and Libby keeping his spirits up in the face of many difficulties is so cute.
Granted, the story never feels authentic because Nate easily overcomes his challenges. But, it’s Disney and the story is focusing on a kid, so I get it.
Read More From Reelrundown
3. Energetic Direction
Tim Federle's direction isn't groundbreaking, but he has an energy that is clearly visible throughout the film. It's evident in the film’s editing, how scenes easily transition one into another. And while the set and costumes aren't spectacular, they never detract from the movie.
4. Solid Music (I Guess?)
I am not an expert on music in any way, shape, or form. Musical genre? Lyrics? The instruments used? I have no idea. All I can say is that I enjoyed the musical elements in the film.
The background music matches the action and Nate's musical performances are delightful. An expert in music might say the whole thing was generic, but I don’t care. I was clapping and bopping my head along with the rhythm.
1. Lack of Character Development
The only major issue I see in the film is that it doesn’t show any of the characters' backstories, which could have established motivations and furthered their relationships with each other.
Nate expressed a desire to be a musical star, but we never see how or why he was so inspired. They tell us, but don't show us. There are several examples of this, including Nate’s mother, who has an issue with her sister, but we never find out why. This is a shame because with a few backstories, the emotional moments could carry more weight.
Better Nate Than Ever is nothing special in the grand scheme of musical-based genre movies. But, it's a decent watch with plenty of enjoyment, drama, and a fun set of characters.
6/10 for Better Nate Than Ever.
© 2022 Fadhli Dzil