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Michael Medved

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Medved: ‘The Front Runner’ is one of the best political films ever

“The Front Runner” tells the story of Gary Hart, a senator from Colorado who always had rumors swirling around him as having eye for the ladies because he was a very dashing, handsome guy. Hugh Jackman doesn’t really look like him, but boy he carries it off. It’s a very fine performance.

The only hesitation I have about the movie, and the reason it’s 3.5 stars, not 4 (out of 4), is that there’s just too much going on, and there are too many characters. It’s tough to keep them straight. But if you’re a political junkie at all, and you’re fascinated by our current politics, run — don’t walk — to go see “The Front Runner.”

Hart told the media that if they believe the rumors, to follow him, which was the justification for the Miami Herald to actually stake out his house. They confront him, and the way it’s rendered is one of the most dramatic confrontations that you’re likely to see on film. He realizes that he is being staked out, when he is seeing this 22-year-old model Donna Rice. She was in his townhouse in Washington, his wife was back in Colorado, and the press confronts him in the alleyway. He’s completely indignant, saying, “What the (expletive) are you doing?”

“Front Runner” is one of the best political movies — not just of the this year — but ever. Because most political movies have a hero, they have a villain. It’s clear-cut, kind of like the way our politics are now: you’re either with the shirts or the skins, you either love President Trump or you hate President Trump, there’s almost nothing in between.

This movie is the precise antidote for that because you can see the admirable elements of Senator Hart and some of the problems. What happens in the film is you see the efforts to keep his campaign going, to keep it alive at a time when he is becoming a punchline.

One of the truly most painful moments is when they replay an old Johnny Carson monologue from “The Tonight Show,” about how the boat in which he apparently was with her was unfortunately named Monkey Business.

Again, there are no bad guys in this movie, there are no real good guys, and the sympathy for all of the characters is the work of this wonderful director Jason Reitman, who did “Juno” and “Up in the Air.” Earlier this year he did “Tully,” which I think is going to be an Oscar nomination for Charlize Theron. For him to come out with this movie now — which is so completely different than anything he’s done before — it’s impressive how it is handled in a masterly way.

It’s rated R because of subject matter and some harsh language, which I can tell you is occasionally used in campaigns.

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