After all the boys who just want to win some sporting tournament in different films, we finally have one about a 13-year-old who aspires to become a Broadway star. Directed and written by Tim Federle, the 2022 film ‘Better Nate Than Never’ follows Nate, who sneaks off to New York with his best-friend to audition for a musical.

While the plot is interesting, the execution isn’t great. Within eleven minutes of streaming it, my movie partner tapped out. “Do theatre actors deliberately over-act like that?” he wondered.

And that’s a major problem with this Disney offing – most of the cast ‘over-acts’, something older viewers might not find amusing. But with Nate and his friend spewing pop-culture references from a different era, it’s not like kids will understand much of what’s happening either. Reuby Wood who plays Nate is definitely talented, but his energy feels far too exaggerated, like a mini Eddie Redmayne on Red Bull(s). However, when he breaks into song-dance sequences, he is quite phenomenal.

Lisa Kudrow plays Nate’s aunt Heidi and it’s like you have a Phoebe throwback slapped on your face, she has the same goofy body language as her famous character from ‘Friends’. Kind-of makes you realize Kudrow’s acting chops are limited. She is pretty much Phoebe in this movie, just older and worn-out. Aria Brook as Libby is the best of the lot, confident and sassy as Nate’s best-friend.

For a musical, the soundtrack didn’t really stand out, except for one number which was a cover for a classic – ‘On Broadway by George Benson’. The song fits perfectly with the theme of the film and the makers even have George Benson is a clever blink-and-miss cameo.

It’s great that Disney is making movies with queer protagonists, and they subtly confirm Nate’s non-existent interest in girls. But except for that bit, ‘Better Nate Than Never’ suffers from mediocre direction, old tropes and weakly done sub-plots, like the one about Nate’s mom and aunt being estranged sisters. The cinematography is colorful, pretty and good to look at, but the writing is weak. I had higher expectations from this one, and despite some fun moments, it was a let-down.

It’s a 5/10 from me. You can stream the film on Disney+

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Episode 65 – 15 Random But Great Book Recommendations