The Front Runner: Review by Kush Hayes
This is not a bad movie. However it should be much better than it is. I will expand on why it isnt. The Hugh Jackman movie The Front Runner is about as plain and boring as the man its based on, 1988 US Presidential Nominee Gary Hart. I was maybe 10 when this was happening in real time, so other than a photo of a young girl sitting in the lead characters lap in front of a boat called Monkey Business, I knew nothing of the guy and was able to see this with fresh eyes.
The infamous photo is never recreated out of all the photos they do have in this movie.
This is the second directorial feature from Jason Reitman for 2018 with his first being the summer parental dramedy Tully, you have to appreciate how sharp this film is. Most directors work 18-24 months on even the most cost effective movie and this work horse is dropping two in six months. Thats pretty amazing. And Reitman tells the story he’s supposed to tell as adapted from the book All The Truth Is Out by Matt Bai.
Bai was a columnist for the NY Times, but wasnt necessarily a columnist during this time in history because he is definitely not a character in this movie. I have not read his book, but it is why this movie jumps around giving the broad strokes of what they absolutely did know and gives no further speculation or drama - which for an essay or a documentary is perfect, but for a drama thats clearly hoping to bring home a golden award in March, its lack luster.
Ultimately this movie is about more than just a flawed man with some good ideas whose genitalia cost him everything and ruined multiple lives in the process, it is about when journalist ethics were compromised, its about questioning where a public figures privacy begins and ends and its about the evolution of a civilization who may not accept what was ok even ten years ago.
Contradiction: I want to say this story would be better served as a mini series on FX or something, but its a long 1 hour and 53 mins. This has a great director, a fantastic primary cast with terrific secondary character actors as well an interesting story, and for some strange reason this movie does not work.
Two Blueberries out of Six