Title: The Front Runner
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J. K. Simmons
Runtime: 1 hr 53 mins
What It Is: In the late 80s, Gary Hart is considered the front-runner for the Democratic Presidential Nomination…then news of an affair with Donna Rice comes out and his campaign is derailed.
What We Think: While I was not quite a teenager when the events in the movie happened, I do remember hearing and reading about it. The story at the time was all over the news and even became fodder for late night talk shows (such as The Tonight Show, which a clip of appears in the movie). The movie begins with his attempt to run in 1984 before doing a time jump to a few weeks before he dropped out of the election.
If the news of his affair hadn’t come out, the entire political system from then to now could have been a lot different. He was set to win the nomination which would have put him against George H.W. Bush in the Presidential election. Instead, Michael Dukakis won the Democrat nomination and eventually lost by almost 7% to the elder Bush.
The events that are shown in the movie while I’m sure were exaggerated for the sake of making an enjoyable movie, were funny at times and sad at others. The movie opened in limited release on election day (becoming the first movie ever to do so), and opens nationwide on November 21st.
Our Grade: B-. Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart was terrific, and the supporting cast of Farmiga (as Hart’s wife), Simmons (as Bill Dixon, Hart’s campaign manager), Molina (as Ben Bradlee, the executive editor of The Washington Post), as well as Paxton (as Donna Rice) were equally great in the movie.