Gary Hart, a U.S. senator from Colorado, is the widely accepted front-runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. After losing the 1984 nomination to vice-president Walter Mondale, Hart decides to run for President of the United States. At one point during his campaign, against the will of his manager Bill Dixon, Hart challenges the press and public to "follow him around" while he's not campaigning on weekends. This proves to be a mistake when in 1987, photos of him and journalist Donna Rice are published by Miami Herald Reporters. In a desperate attempt to clear his name, Hart tries to fix his reputation at a news event concerning the affair but to no avail. Because of the consequences of his actions, Hart is disgraced, berated by Dixon, and forced to drop out of the campaign while his wife Oletha remains to be close with him. Donna also announces that she has personally denied sleeping with the now former senator..
Ben Bradlee who's portrayed in this movie by Alfred Molina was also portrayed by Tom Hanks in The Post and Jason Robards in All the President's Men. Also his son Ben Bradlee Jr. was portrayed by John Slattery in the film Spotlight. See more »
The airplane landing at Washington National showed a United DC-10 which needs a longer runway to land than those available at National. The exterior shot of the taxi pickup area was not at National. See more »
My name is Gary Hart and I'm running for President.
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The film opens with the 1984 Columbia Pictures logo. See more »
A worthy, if a bit bumpy, political film with solid performances
Jason Reitman's film (shot on 35mm by Eric Steelberg) starts off as a Fly On The Wall treatment of Gary Hart's 1988 campaign for President, before dissolving into a typical docu-drama crawl. Too bad, as the early scenes have a certain rush of excitement and even verisimilltude. The momentum gets strangely derailed just when it should be peaking - when the Donna Rice / 'Monkey Business' sex scandal hits.
Hugh Jackman is good as the candidate, even if he never quite nails Hart's voice (and, while Hart was a handsome well built guy, he didn't quite have the physique of Wolverine! - especially amusing in the lumberjack scene). Vera Farmiga and JK Simmons provide solid support as Hart's wife and campaign manager respectively. Sara Paxton gives Donna Rice a sympathy beyond the typical 'victim' stereotype, even she doesn't really look the part.
It's been well chronicled that Hart's sexual escapades helped clear the path for Bill Clinton to clear that hurdle when his scandals hit (not to mention the current Prez). What THE FRONT RUNNER also shows is that Hart lacked the empathy and human dimension that Clinton had that lead to his winning the Presidency. Both Hart and Clinton were policy wonks, but, 'Slick Willie' was a fully rounded personality - love him or hate him. Hart came off like a stolid Senator from flyover country.
THE FRONT RUNNER doesn't break any new ground (and offers little that will appeal to anybody under 50 who isn't a political junkie), despite it's fine start. Still, as an addition to the library of political films, it's an asset.
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