What’s on TV Thursday: ‘The Front Runner’ and ‘The Emoji Movie’

THE FRONT RUNNER (2018) 5:20 p.m. on Starz. About a year after playing P.T. Barnum in “The Greatest Showman,” Hugh Jackman starred in this drama, which effectively posits that the former Senator Gary Hart’s 1987 presidential campaign was brought down by a media circus. Directed by Jason Reitman, the movie casts Jackman as Hart. It focuses on a period of weeks that begin with Hart being widely considered the most likely candidate for the Democratic nomination, and ends with the politician suspending his campaign after it is overcome by rumors of extramarital activities. The film “belongs to the accusatory tradition of ‘Ace in the Hole,’ ‘Network’ and ‘Absence of Malice,’ movies that see reporters and editors not as guardians of democracy but as barbarians inside the gates of the republic, subverting its values through cynicism, self-importance and mercenary scandal-mongering,” A.O. Scott wrote in his review for The New York Times. “Reitman uses Altmanesque sound design and serpentine camera movements to convey the chaos and kineticism of a process in constant, frantic motion,” he added. “But after a while, once we’ve met the principal players, the speechmaking starts and a potential comedy of political manners turns into a pious, tendentious morality play.”

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