Gary Hart was the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for president in 1988 until a sex scandal knocked him from contention. “The Front Runner,” which is directed by Jason Reitman from a script by himself, Jay Carson, and Matt Bai and stars Hugh Jackman as Hart, posits the exposure of Hart’s indiscretions in the press as the kickoff for where we are today in a political world reveling in revelations of personal calumny. It’s a debatable thesis, but at least the filmmakers don’t rub in the contemporary parallels. We can all too easily supply them for ourselves.
Jackman, sporting a distracting, Hart-like brown hairpiece, seems miscast. He doesn’t convincingly convey this politician’s swagger and slickness, and Reitman’s attempts to mimic a loose-limbed political movie in the style of, say, Robert Altman’s “Tanner '88” series or “The Candidate” are rather leaden. It’s a film that’s less interesting to watch than to discuss afterward. Grade: C+ (Rated R for language including some sexual references.)