I know I’m definitely not Disney’s Better Nate Than Ever’s target audience, but then, I wasn’t the audience for the YA novel that it was based on either, but I did buy and read it in almost one sitting… as well as the two others that came after.
I was excited when I learned that the first book in the trilogy not only will be adapted to the screen, it will be directed by Tim Federle, who is the author of the trilogy, so I knew this will be handled as carefully as it can, and thankfully, I wasn’t wrong. A teen who is so much into musical theatre tries his luck by auditioning in a Broadway show by sneaking out to New York City. Pretty simple premise but take my word for it – it’s lots of fun.
This thanks to a great cast led by Rueby Wood in his debut feature as Nate Foster, Aria Brooks, Joshua Bassett, and Lisa Kudrow, who I am so delighted to see on screen again. The supporting cast plus cameos makes this movie a theatre geek’s (points at myself) heaven. Check out the who’s who when you can.
But let’s get back to Rueby Wood. I was so impressed with this kid’s performance I was not only smiling throughout the film, he made me laugh out, and seriously, almost made me scream when he did that monologue (I’m leaving this at this, so no spoilers). Looking him up, it’s hard to believe Better Nate Than Ever is his first film. More impressive is the fact that he got the lead role so there’s that.
Now the film. There were a lot that was changed in the movie but that did not take away from the essence of the story. E.T. the musical in the book was switched to Lilo and Stitch the Musical but I guess this made more sense being a Disney film. The book was published in 2013 so there are a couple of updating that needed to be done in order for the film to be set to the present and they were handled in a way that it made sense and not in a “just for the sake of” kind of way. And the film looks and feels as NYC as it can be, and that is such a delight for anyone who is into Broadway (points at myself again).
I’ll keep it short and I’ll end it here. Just go ahead and see this light-hearted film and, if you see this, Mr. Federle, please go ahead and give us the sequels soon.
Better Nate Than Ever streams on Disney +