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The Front Runner DVD Review

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“The Front Runner” plays it too safe.

Based on a novel by Matt Bai (and the real life events themselves), “The Front Runner” follows the idealistic and bright Senator Gary Hart and his run for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 1988 that failed due to his infidelity. The film (scripted by Matt Bai, Jason Reitman and Jay Carson) also delves into Gary Hart’s family, staffers, the woman who had an affair with Gary (Donna Rice) as well as several key journalists.

On paper, director Jason Reitman’s film seems timely given that it explores subjects such as privacy, the role of the media and how it changed as a result of this news story, and how dated the actual controversy is compared to the crazy modern political scandals. Unfortunately, the ideas presented within the story aren’t explored nearly enough. In fact, the entire film is frustratingly undercooked. Granted, the movie is well acted and well directed as Reitman has an almost Robert Altman esque fly-on-the-wall/documentary approach to the story, but it’s not enough. Why does Gary Hart take a backseat to stories involving staffers? Why don’t we get enough about Hart as a person? Why aren’t the deep and relevant plotlines about the press more hard hitting? The film is littered with strange creative choices like this. Basically, there’s a lot going on here, but very little of it has enough depth.

As I mentioned above, the cast is strong across the board. Hugh Jackman, J.K. Simmons, and Vera Farmiga have the most to do here and the veteran actors predictably turn in memorable performances.. The real surprise here is Molly Ephraim as a campaign scheduler Irene Kelly who has one of the film’s more developed arcs. A special shoutout has to go to some of the outside of the box stunt casting for smaller roles featuring the likes of Mike Judge and Bill Burr.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1. How does it look? Expect a sharp standard def transfer.

Audio Track: Dolby Digital 5.1. How does it sound? A quality 5.1 track that effortlessly handles busy and intimate scenes.

Extras:
* Digital copy.
* Sony trailers
* 3 deleted scenes
* “The Unmaking Of A Candidate”- A standard featurette with interviews, film clips, discussions about Gary Hart, etc.
* Commentary by Jason Reitman, Helen Estabrook, Steve Saklad, Danny Glicker, and Eric Steelberg. Pretty bland to be honest.

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February 7, 2019 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , ,

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