Better Nate Than Ever
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Better Nate Than Ever is applause worthy family entertainment

Tim Federle adapts his same-titled 2013 young adult novel for the small screen in Better Nate Than Ever. Nate Foster (Rueby Wood) has big dreams. His whole life, he has wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he would settle for just seeing a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he is stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where only his best pal Libby (Aria Brooks) appreciates a good show tune? 

There is an open casting call for Lillo & Stitch the Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and major stardom. When his parents leave town for a romantic getaway, Nate and Libby plan a daring overnight escape to New York. While in the Big Apple, Nate has a chance encounter with his long-lost Aunt Heidi (Lisa Kudrow) that turns his journey upside-down. Together, they must learn that life’s most extraordinary adventures are only as big as your dreams.

Given that I am not in the reading demographic, I had no idea that Better Nate Than Ever was based on a series of best-selling books. However, the film’s premise caught my attention as it had the makings of an underdog story, which I am a fan of, so I decided to give the movie a look. The film opens with a lively musical number from our lead, Rueby Wood, and instantly won me over. Hailing from Broadway, Wood is fresh off his performance of the national tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Possessing a charisma well ahead of his years, Wood quickly pulls us into his character and we want to see him succeed. Early in the film, we see Nate face a rejection when he is negated to the role of a tree in the chorus, instead of the lead role he craves in his middle school’s current production. I commend Tim Federle for how he handles this angle, as it gives Nate the motivation to work harder.

Outside of Lisa Kudrow, the supporting cast is primarily made up of unknowns, allowing me to tap into the characters more. Similar to Ruby Wood, Aria Brooks is a star in the making. In a role that could have quickly gone the way of a stereotype, Brooks turns the part into something else as she fully taps into Black Girl magic that kept me smiling anytime she was on screen. While I wish I could get more in-depth about the arc Federle creates for her, let’s just say it is enough durability in Libby’s character for a spin-off.

There is one particular moment between Nate and Libby that I am sure will raise the eyebrows of some parents and bring on think pieces. However, I can assure you that it is handled tastefully. Federle could have pushed the moments as far as Disney would have allowed, but I commend him for not making it a huge issue.

When the credits rolled on Better Nate Than Never, Barrack Obama’s quote “One voice can change a room” hit my mind. Better Nate Than Ever is recommended for your next family movie night. The film never overstays its welcome and features honest and heartfelt performances. I sincerely hope that this film finds an audience it deserves. 

Final Grade: A

Better Nate Than Never arrives on Disney +, April 1st

Movie Clappers

More reviews to explorer

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Bobby Brown - Every Little Step

Bobby Brown is the King of his destiny in Every Little Step

R&B’s original bad boy Mr. Bobby Brown returns to the television screen for another reality show with Bobby Brown: Every Little Step. After facing immense tragedy and adversity in the public eye, the Browns are ready to invite fans into their world as they embark on a new chapter of life in the 12-episode docuseries Bobby Brown: Every Little Step.

Vendetta

Vendetta is a mundane revenge flick

Writer and director Jared Cohn make a return to the world of action in Vendetta. After his daughter is the victim of a brutal murder set up by local kingpin Donnie (Bruce Willis) and legal justice looks unlikely, William Duncan (Clive Standen) takes the law into his own hands.

Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a lively good time

The other animated chipmunks you grew up with receive a live-action feature film in Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers from director Akiva Schaffer. Chip and Dale live amongst cartoons and humans in modern-day Los Angeles, but their lives are pretty different now. It has been decades since their successful television series was canceled, and Chip (voice of John Mulaney) has succumbed to a life of suburban domesticity as an insurance sales clerk.