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‘Better Nate Than Ever’ is the Coming of Age Movie of our Musical Dreams

by Judy Bokao

Image Credit: Disney+ ‘Better Nate Than Ever’

Better Nate Than Ever is a coming-of-age movie that follows Nate, a young boy who loves the razzle-dazzle of the theater.

What is the film about?

The movie is about Nate, a young boy from Pennsylvania who is in love with theater and his dream is to make it big on Broadway. The first time viewers meet him, he is excited to see if he has been selected as the lead for his school’s play. Sadly, he doesn’t get it but his best friend Libby has an idea of making his dreams come true.

She has just learned about an open casting call for the Broadway adaptation of “Lilo & Stitch.” She thinks they should take their chances and go to the audition. There is a catch though, the auditions are in New York on the coming weekend.

These two decide it will be best if they run away to New York and try out their luck. You know “live a little;” as Libby puts it. Nate’s parents are going away for a weekend trip to celebrate their anniversary and his brother is going away for a football meet. They just have to hatch a plan that will make everyone think he is at home with Libby and no one would be any wiser.

They set out to New York and Nate manages to make the auditions. He lost hope when he was accidentally cut on his first try -out but he managed to get a callback. The auditions are not how he pictured them but he still made it through to the end.

What did I love about the film?

I loved that Nate is not scared to say what he likes and is articulate about what he wants. The scene on the bus where he tells Libby that he wants to go and give it a chance was well-written and executed. I love that during that scene when Libby confessed that she likes him, he turned her down in a polite way. There was no over-the-top drama or fall-out but a simple explanation that he loves her differently.

I also loved the subtle references to Nate’s sexuality. He is at the cusp of just learning who he is and it is not a full-blown out declaration but some hints show he is gay and I loved that everyone is okay with that.

I greatly enjoyed the scene where he was struggling during the audition and his brother stepped in and gave him assurances. I think we can all relate to the fact that there are times in our lives when we need assurances from the people close to us. Nate misunderstood his brother and his brother in turn was not seeing Nate for who he truly was. It was a sweet brotherly moment when Anthony acknowledges Nate’s talent and cheers him on.

I loved that Nate’s aunt showed up for him and helped him pursue his dreams. She is a struggling actor but she didn’t discourage him. She is proud of him and understands his dream as he reminds her of him. They are kindred spirits and even though she has been MIA most of his life, she didn’t falter when she ran into him and needed her help.

Why should you watch the film?

The message in this film is about family and dreams. Nate may be young but he is not afraid to chase after his dream. We all have dreams and it is never too late or too early to start pursuing the life we want for ourselves.

As much as we follow our dreams, we also have friends and family who bring the best in us. We might have misunderstandings but family still shows up when you need them. I loved that that message came through the film.

Lastly, the representation of young queer individuals in this film is peak gold. Nate is not out yet but he carries himself with pride and for a seventh grader I admire his fighting spirit. He is not swayed to try and change himself to fit the role society deems he should. He unapologetically goes his way and doesn’t give it a second thought. This is the gay-positive content we need right now and I am glad someone is doing it.

Also, Nate ( Rueby Wood) is an amazing singer, he can belt out a tune, and who doesn’t enjoy great vocals?

About the Author:

Judy Bokao was born in Ethiopia but relocated to Nairobi two years ago. She is passionate about everyone having equal rights and is also big on conservation and speaking up for our planet. Judy loves reading and photography and is just a free-spirited young lady trying to grow into a woman her mom can be proud of.

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