Better Nate Than Ever (2022) Review

Nate Foster is 13 years old and he dreams of becoming a big Broadway star. His best friend Libby masterminds a plan for a trip to New York City so he can audition for a new musical version of ‘Lily and Stitch’.


Despite having truly awful luck for the school musical when the cast list was announced, Nate did not get the starring role that he was so hoping for. He wasn’t even the understudy, he was a tree. That’s right a tree. After a rather dramatic moment of declaring his musical theatre dream is already over he is convinced otherwise by Libby. She then tells him about some open auditions in New York for the Lilo and Stitch Musical.

It felt as though the timing was perfect when Nate’s parents were going away for the weekend that the auditions were taking place so the teens can then travel to NYC alone and hope that his older brother Anthony doesn’t really notice that he is gone. Plenty of issues are about to happen during the trip though, especially when the audition actually requires the child actor to have an adult with them.

By absolute chance his Aunt Heidi who hasn’t actually spoken to the family for around a decade, Nate thought idolises that she was in Broadway production and has therefore always wanted to follow in her footsteps.

Everything about this film captures the magic of not only Broadway and New York City, but the joy that musicals can bring and just why they are so popular. As a viewer we want nothing more than to see Nate live and achieve his dream, he wants it so badly and has risked a lot to even try.

The Times Square ‘On Broadway’ number that then goes viral on TikTok was a great way to really highlight just how things can happen so quickly on social media and how it can then actually make a positive difference. I thought the film was going to be fun (which it was) and have plenty of musical moments and/or mentions (which it does) but the thing I really wasn’t expecting was how emotional scenes were going to be. I actually found myself filling up a few times towards the end and I feel as though that is a massive compliment to the character development.

Rueby Wood is a sensation in the leading role of Nate and is a true star in the making, having already been on stage himself as Charlie in the first national Broadway tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2018-2019 as well as Michael Banks in Mary Poppins. Just showing that he really was the perfect choice for this film and will be a one to watch over the next few years. Aria Brooks was brilliant to watch as well, working so effortlessly with Wood. A total bonus with the film as Lisa Kudrow’s role and I thought she was just great as Aunt Heidi, offering some light relief but also some moments of good advice.

The balance was really good between the elements of the storytelling and character development, I would have loved even more musical numbers/moments though, I think a few more of those and I would have pushed the film even more. It is so easy to watch though and I really hope that it is watched a lot with it going straight to Disney+. The Wicked references were a highlight, “Your my hero” had me in pieces. Well done and thank you Tim Federle for this lovely film.

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