As a journalist, journalism movies either really excite me or really upset me. They’re hard to get right, mainly because if they don’t have a point you’re left wondering why you should care.
“The Front Runner” is one of those movies that left me wondering why I should have exactly cared. Hugh Jackman stars as Gary Hart, a politician that time has largely forgotten. Hart was running for the Democratic nomination in the 1988 election when his campaign crumbled and flew off the rails after the Miami Herald ran an article about his alleged affair with a young woman named Donna Rice. In a three week time period the front runner fought with the media about whether or not his personal life was the press’ business and subsequently ended his campaign. Today, Hart’s story is widely regarded as the beginning of obsessive tabloid-like journalism surrounding politics.
It sounds like a great story with obvious connections to today’s maddening political landscape. And yet, the movie was kind of just eh. Maybe it was because a scandal that happened in the 80s seems like child’s play compared to the things we read about Trump on the daily. Or maybe because the story of Hart and his downfall happened so fast in real time there really wasn’t that much substance to the story to begin with. When the movie ended I had one of those, “that was it?” moments. I was sure there was still a solid 20 minutes left before the credits rolled. It just simply ended with Hart going back home to Colorado with his wife while voice over told us he had suspended his campaign. That was it. There wasn’t even a climatic “West Wing” scene where he argued with his team over ending things. I mean, you had J.K. Simmons. Use him! Continue reading