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Why You Cried at the End of Better Nate Than Ever

When I watched Better Nate Than Ever on Disney+, I felt all the feels. Joy, laughter, sadness. During the press conference of Better Nate Than Ever with Director Tim Federle and talent Rueby Wood, Aria Brooks, Joshua Bassett, and Lisa Kudrow, Federle explains why we were crying at the end.

Better Nate Than Ever Emotions

Nate (Rueby Wood) is a 12-year-old kid who has just been looked over for a lead role in his school play (AGAIN!), and he’s feeling pretty down. He dreams of Broadway, but how will he get there if he never gets a shot? His best friend, Libby (Aria Brooks) tells him about an audition in New York City for a Lilo & Stitch Musical, and they go on an unforgettable adventure sans parents. 

Federle said, “Nate is a character who in Hollywood history, Nate would be the side character, the joke, or he wouldn’t even appear on camera. So, the intention of the authenticity of this movie is to bring the audience into a world where Nate may feel different from them, but actually, we all have the same dream. We want to be accepted, loved, celebrated, and lifted up.”

The intention of the authenticity of this movie is to bring the audience into a world where Nate may feel different from them, but actually, we all have the same dream.

-Tim Federle

So although Nate’s particular dream may be Broadway, we as an audience, all have dreams. And that makes this story so relatable. Somewhere amongst our dreams, we encounter naysayers, people who doubt us, even people who bully us. Sometimes we’re the ones who doubt ourselves. However, at the end of it all, we just want to be loved and accepted for who we are. 

As we go on Nate’s journey, it’s a fast and fast furious ride, an 88-minute ride, in fact. And that was intentional. According to Federle, “I wanted to tell a story that whipped by so fast, so
furiously, and with so much fun that if some emotions sneak up on the audience, it sneaks up on them and makes them go,”Oh, wait, I did not see that coming.”

Some of those emotions hit me in the scene with Nate’s brother, Anthony (Joshua Bassett) at his audition, Libby realizing what she wants to do, Aunt Heidi (Lisa Kudrow) getting to bond with Nate after all these years, and the flush of emotions when Nate feels accepted. Why was I crying, dang it??

Because as Federle says, that’s real life. “Real life goes up, it goes down, it goes up, it goes down, and you better find those people who ride that roller coaster with you. And I hope the audience goes on that roller coaster ride with us.”

And we do. Wood and Brooks are such power houses in their roles, you can’t help but feel what they’re feeling, and when you’re going through life through the lenses of a child, it sometimes hits even more deep. We all want our people. And middle school is sometimes the worst.

Federle also added that he loves musicals and Nate has some big musical numbers. When he was a kid, he had big emotions and musicals “allow you to say and sing the things that might feel too big when you’re little and figuring out why you’re so little with such big emotions.”

The cast had so much fun together on set and during the press conference, and their authenticity and love for each other shines through on screen as well. Better Nate Than Ever is now streaming on Disney+. Have your tissues handy. 

Better Nate Than Ever Rueby Wood Aria Brooks

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