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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Follow your dreams, even when obstacles try to stop you. Be true to yourself, no matter what the odds or hurdles. Parents should let kids decide their own activities and futures. People should be allowed to love whomever they want.
Positive Role Models
Nate remains true to himself and grateful for his best friend. His brother seems embarrassed by him but is also dealing with a feeling of pressure from his parents; he ultimately learns to appreciate Nate's talents. Adults learn to accept their kids, celebrate their personalities, and forgive each other for past differences. They make sacrifices for them. Theater kids and stage moms are seen as hypercompetitive. Nate and Libby run away from home and take a bus ride hours away, and Nate finds himself alone at night in the city.
Main character, a middle school boy who wears lip gloss and aspires to a career on Broadway, is considered "different" and is bullied for it. His best friend is a Black girl who might have different feelings for him than he has for her. He's advised that not all boys his age feel comfortable being open about their differences or as true to themselves as he does, and Nate eventually sees this first-hand. Diversity among supporting cast.
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Violence & Scariness
A middle school kid bullies Nate and calls him a "girl." Nate accidentally causes the kid to have a bloody nose and suffers more threats from him as a result.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Nate misspeaks: "I have a pornographic memory." A teen girl asks a boy to kiss, but they're interrupted before they do. A girl admits a crush. Discussion of loving whomever you choose to.
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"Screw it," "gosh," "bleeping."
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Products & Purchases
Axe body spray, Instagram, TikTok, some Broadway musicals, ads in Times Square, New York City as a cultural hub.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Better Nate Than Ever is a charming tween musical about celebrating differences and following your dreams based on Tim Federle's same-named book. Main character Nate (Rueby Wood), a middle school boy who wears lip gloss and aspires to a career on Broadway, is deemed "different" by his peers and gets bullied for it (one encounter ends with the bullying kid getting a bloody nose). But others in his life, including his sporty big brother, learn to value Nate's authenticity, talent, and drive. Two middle schoolers put themselves in potential danger by running away from home and catching a bus to New York City (where they meet theater kids and ultracompetitive stage parents), but they don't encounter any serious trouble. Nate's best friend may or may not have a crush on him. The film has positive messages about staying true to yourself and accepting friends and relatives for who they are, sometimes making personal sacrifices for their benefit. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a film for every kid who's ever felt different, or has imagined their name in lights, or was sure they were cut out for bigger things but hadn't yet discovered what they were. Nate, the titular character of the charming Better Nate Than Ever, and best friend Libby are so sure they're meant for more than their Pittsburgh middle school lives that they're willing to take chances and even put themselves in potential danger to pursue their dreams. What makes this movie special is the single-mindedness with which a 13-year-old main character follows his passion, and the innocence and sweetness the story retains despite portraying realistic life challenges.
Nate (charismatic newcomer Wood) is delightfully irrepressible. The script and direction capture this in ways both big and small -- his Axe body spray moment after maddening his brother with song and dance at 7:30 in the morning, his triumphant look upon returning to complete a purchase in dimes and quarters earned busking in Times Square, his riveting monologue from Designing Women. Not every scene lands perfectly, and curiously, his first big imagined musical number, meant to be Golden Age Hollywood fabulous, has less spark than his emotional, climactic singing audition. When the director tells him that musicals allow us to say the things we can't actually say in real life, we totally get it -- thanks to Nate.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.