Nate Foster, an unpopular 13-year-old from Pittsburgh, has a goal of one day becoming a Broadway musical star. When Nate is repeatedly overlooked, and never cast in the lead roles he deserves, he and his best friend Libby, sneak away to pursue their life's dreams in the Big Apple. A random encounter with his estranged aunt Heidi, turns their adventure upside-down. Only together can they make their dreams come true.
Nate Foster is a 13-year-old who lives in Pittsburgh and is obsessed with being a Broadway star. His parents are understanding while his older brother Anthony is put off by his odd behavior. At school, Nate is picked on and gets passed over major roles in the school play, but finds solace in his only friend Libby who supports him in his endeavors, but she herself has stage fright. She informs him that they are holding auditions for a Broadway adaptation of Lilo & Stitch, but Nate is unsure whether he can make it. As luck would have it, Nate's parents, Rex and Sherrie, decide to get away for awhile. Anthony uses the opportunity to hang out with his friends while Nate feigns spending the night at Libby's house. Nate and Libby sneak away on a bus to New York City without telling anyone.
Nate and Libby locate where to audition, but are informed that they need a parent or guardian to watch. By chance, Nate's Aunt Heidi, a struggling actress, just so happens to be there to audition for A Solitary Woman and Nate passes her off as his guardian. While Heidi is happy to see Nate, she wants to do the responsible thing and call her sister Sherrie to inform her, but Nate gives her Libby's number to hide it. Nate goes into the audition, but when he tries to show off his knee dancing from Fiddler on the Roof he accidentally rips his pants and humiliates himself. Nate prepares to return to Pittsburgh with Libby, believing that he has failed, but calls a callback. Libby cannot bring herself to stay with Nate in New York and admits her feelings for him, but Nate informs her that he does not think of her that way and stays for the callback which involves giving a monologue that impresses the casting directors.
Not having a place to stay, and needing to earn money, Nate discovers street performers and begins to sing; becoming a TikTok star overnight. He calls Libby who responds positively to the news before going to the Museum of Natural History to find Heidi who, while upset that Nate did not return home, gives him a place to stay. Heidi is revealed to have had a falling out with her sister in the past due to their clashing dreams. She nevertheless supports Nate's endeavors and hopes that he make the audition. Back at home, Anthony discovers Nate's TikTok video and heads over the Libby's house to demand what is happening. In the morning, Anthony and Libby arrive at Heidi's apartment in New York to pick Nate up. Nate tells Anthony that he is aware that he embarrasses him, but that he needs to go to the audition to achieve his dream. He escapes out a fire exit (something he has always wanted to do) while Heidi informs Libby about being an agent.
Nate arrives to audition for Stitch, but becomes demoralized upon realizing that the majority of the character's lines are alien grunts. He begins to sing "No One Gets Left Behind", but stumbles when Heidi, Anthony and Libby arrive and gives up. Anthony shouts that he does not embarrass him and this encourages Nate to continue singing and give a remarkable performance. Nate makes up with Anthony who found his audition impressive and he encourages Heidi to not give up on her dreams and to make up with Sherrie. On the drive back home, Anthony gets into show tunes and Libby accepts being Nate's platonic friend. The next day at school, Nate is called into the principal's office where his parents learned what happened and reveal that he successfully landed the part. The movie ends with Nate performing in the musical with Libby, Anthony, his parents, and Heidi in the audience.
- Rueby Wood as Nate Foster
- Joshua Bassett as Anthony Foster; Nate’s older brother
- Aria Brooks as Libby Reneé; Nate’s best friend
- Lisa Kudrow as Aunt Heidi
- Norbert Leo Butz as Rex Foster; Anthony and Nate’s father
- Michelle Federer as Sherrie Foster; Anthony and Nate’s mother
- Finn Egan-Liang as Jimmy Madison
- Krystina Alabado as Assistant Casting Director
- Brooks Ashmanskas as Casting Director
- Keola Simpson as Garrett Kekoa
- Anaseini Katoa as Director
- Kylie Kuioka as Stage Daughter
- Priscilla Lopez as Serious Play Casting Director
- George Benson as Himself
- Big Time
- No One Gets Left Behind
- About to Go Awf
- This is the second Disney+ project that Joshua Bassett and Tim Federle have worked on together. The first Disney+ project Tim Federle and Joshua Bassett worked on together was High School Musical: The Musical: The Series which Tim Federle is the creator of and Joshua Bassett plays Ricky Bowen.
- This movie is based off of a book written by the director of this movie Tim Federle.
- The soundtrack was released on March 18, 2022, two weeks prior to the film's release.
- This is the first live action Disney feature film to have an LGBTQ+ protagonist in the lead role as opposed to a supporting role.
- Norbert Leo Butz and Michelle Federer who plays Anthony and Nate’s parents are married in real life.
Easter eggs and allusions
- In the original book, Nate was auditioning for a Broadway adaptation of E.T. the Extraterrestrial. For the film adaptation, this was changed to Lilo & Stitch. This was obviously done so that Disney could utilize their own brand, rather than having to ask permission for another way. The decision to use Lilo & Stitch came from director Tim Federle.
- When asked by Libby to name "the greatest animated movie of all time", Nate asks if she means before or after Moana's release.
- Nate sings "Let It Go" during his second audition. Later, when he is asked to go to the New Asterdam Theater the next day, Nate points out that's the same theater where The Lion King debuted.
- A TV spot for Cruella can be seen as Nate walks througth Times Square.
- Nate has a Wicked Poster in his room ironic enough Norbert Leo Butz and Michelle Federer who plays Nate’s parents were part of the original Wicked Broadway cast. Norbert Leo Butz who plays Nate’s father was the original Fiyero and Michelle Federer who plays Nate’s mother was the original Nessarose in Wicked the Broadway musical.
- Bucksbaum, Sydney (February 25, 2022). "First look at Disney+ musical 'Better Nate Than Ever' features full-circle 'HSMTMTS' reunion" (en). Entertainment Weekly.
- "Better Nate Than Ever on Disney+". Filmy Rating. Retrieved Mar 17, 2022.
- Bucksbaum, Sydney (2022-02-25). "First look at Disney+ musical Better Nate Than Ever features full-circle HSMTMTS reunion". Entertainment Weekly.