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Starring: Rueby Wood, Joshua Bassett, Aria Brooks, Lisa Kudrow, Norbert Leo Butz, Michelle Federe
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Disney+ musical family comedy written and directed by Tim Federle. Better Nate Than Ever (2022) centers on 13 year-old Nate Foster (Rueby Wood), who has big Broadway dreams. There’s only one problem, he can’t even land a part in the school play. But when his parents leave town, Nate and his best friend, Libby (Aria Brooks), sneak off to the Big Apple to prove everyone wrong. But a chance encounter with Nate’s long-lost Aunt Heidi (Lisa Kudrow) turns his journey upside-down, and together they must learn that life’s greatest adventures are only as big as your dreams.
Our Favorite Quotes:'Find your light. Everybody forgets that. But how are they going to remember you if they can't see you?' - Heidi (Better Nate Than Ever) Click To Tweet
Libby: [over phone] Today is very low stakes for me. I’ll just be happy if I get cast in the chorus.
Nate: You should have auditioned for a big part. We should be like nervous about this together.
Libby: Yeah, no thanks. I don’t really do rejection.
Nate: Today is the day, Ma. Is this sweater trying too hard? I want my look to say, “I am honored to have been cast as the lead role, but I wasn’t expecting it.”
Anthony: Are you wearing lipstick?
Anthony: Bro, you’re wearing lipstick.
Nate: It’s lip gloss. Clinical strength. The pediatrician said my lip skin is unusually sensitive.
Sherrie: Did the pediatrician actually say that?
Nate: Work with me here, Ma.
Nate: Libby, I wasn’t even cast as Lincoln’s understudy. I didn’t even get his son. Who’s dead. And, yes, we will have fun in the chorus together, but I was cast as a tree, Libby. A tree. Do you realize what this says about me, right? That my parents are right. I should just give up on my dreams now.
Libby: Can I talk yet, or are you still yelling?
Nate: I’m still yelling!
Nate: [as the toilet flushes in the next stall] Sorry, I thought we were alone!
Girl: You guys are so weird.
Libby: We know.
Libby: I’ve got some breaking news about this weekend.
Nate: Whatever it is, it better not involve any more glitter lip gloss. I’m serious.
Nate: [referring going to the audition for Lilo & Stitch] How would we even get to New York? Would Stitch pick us up in his spaceship?
Libby: Okay, first of all, tone. Second, no. We’ll sneak away on an overnight bus.
Nate: Libby, my mom doesn’t even let me go to Rite Aid alone.
Libby: Come on, Foster. Live a little. I’d hate to not be your date to the Tony Awards.
Libby: [referring to Heidi] You really think we’re going to arrive in New York City and run into your aunt? In a city of seventeen billion people?
Nate: With my luck? Yes.
Libby: Nate. You didn’t even get cast as Lincoln’s dead son. You don’t have luck.
Nate: You know what? Forget New York. I’m just trying to survive seventh grade.
Sherrie: Daddy is taking me away for the weekend. Somewhere fancy in West Virginia for our big anniversary! Surprise!
Anthony: We can afford fancy?
Rex: That’s why God invented credit cards.
Libby: [as they’re about to leave for New York] Okay. Let’s go over the checklist. Did you take a series of selfies at your house to post on Instagram at strategic intervals?
Nate: Yes, I have over two hundred options.
Libby: Did you pack your headshot?
Libby: [as Nate shows her his photo] Nate, that’s like a wallet-sized school photo from when you had your worst haircut.
Nate: My dad doesn’t have a job, Libby. We don’t just have glossy eight-by-tens ready to go.
Nate: I’ve always wanted to climb out a window. Like the Tonight duet, on the fire escape, in West Side Story.
Libby: You really want to break your ankle before we get to this audition?
Nate: Why are you doing all this for me?
Libby: Because, it damages my clout, when my best friend isn’t even cast as Abraham Lincoln’s understudy. And I figured you could use the mood lift. Plus, my love language is quality time, so.
Nate: Did you just say you love me?
Libby: [to Nate] So, when we get there, I know you kind of think of Times Square as the 1950s Guys and Dolls fantasia, but people don’t actually dance in the street. They mug you.
Libby: Maybe we should just turn around. My hair doesn’t do wet.
Nate: We just got here. Live a little.
Libby: Oh, look at you quoting me. I’ll allow it.
Assistant Casting Director: We are expecting a thousand kids in the next twenty-four hours, so, I need the first twenty-five kids to look at their numbers, and line themselves up against this mirrored wall in ascending order.
Nate: [to Libby] I didn’t realize there’d be math on this test.
Libby: You don’t have your lucky rabbit foot.
Nate: Jimmy Madison took it. I hope karma hits him in the form of a bus. I mean, a metaphorical bus. Obviously, I’m against violence at a core level, but…
'Musicals allow us to say things we can't actually say in real life.' - Director (Better Nate Than Ever) Click To Tweet
Stage Daughter: [to Nate] Have you done costume character work before? I played a snow-man in a full body suit in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Twice. I turned it down the third year, so I wouldn’t be pigeon-holed as not having a face.
Heidi: This is incredible. I was this close to not even coming to this audition today. And then, something in me was like, “Do it, Heidi.” And then this! It’s like you’re a sign.
Nate: Thank you. I’ve been called many names in my life, but “sign” is a first.
Heidi: [to Nate] And I love that you’re still acting. I’m not surprised. I’m not. Because you were the only toddler whose first word was “me!”
Garret Kekoa: Before I make the first cut, does anyone have a special skill they’d like to demonstrate?
Nate: “Make the first cut.” All we did was scream.
Casting Director: Alright. If I don’t read your number, I will see you on…
Nate: [to Libby and Heidi] “The next one!” Like there will even be a next one. Cut at my first and last Broadway audition. That’s going to be the name of my memoir title.
Nate: I would trade my entire life with you right now, if I could be a caterer in New York.
Heidi: One day, Nate, I have complete confidence that you’ll be a caterer in New York. In the meantime, middle school is calling your name.
Casting Director: [looking at Nate’s headshot photo] That is the worst haircut I’ve seen in thirty-two years of casting.
Libby: I kind of only do the school shows to be with, you know? With you.
Nate: Libby, you know how much you mean to me, but I’m not like that.
Wry Female Passenger: Honey, let him go. I’ll explain to you on the ride home.
Bus Driver: Are you staying on, or are you getting off?
Nate: I’m really sorry, Lib.
Wry Female Passenger: I’ve been there, sweetheart. And I married the guy!
Casting Director: [to Nate] I’ve never had a boy sing Let It Go, I’ll give you that.
Nate: Sorry, do you mind if I exit out the window? The West Side Story balcony scene is on my bucket list.
Casting Director: We’re on the fourth floor and there’s no fire escape.
Nate: Oh, yeah. That makes sense.