I blame Xenu…
Gotti is the film that John Travolta was so convinced was his speedway back to the A-list that he went to Cannes and embarrassed himself by dad-dancing with 50 Cent. The US release featured a last-ditch media tour by Travolta and his “wife” (Travolta is long rumoured to be gay) Kelly Preston to every local news outlet that would have them. US distributor Lionsgate sold the rights back to the filmmakers, because it was so bad that subscription ticket seller MoviePass distributed the film to theatres and then basically bought tickets for its own film. And the film still BOMBED! So is it really that bad?
But… John Travolta is one of the last true movie stars in the classical sense, and gives it his all despite a butchered script. The film was in development hell for years, with many cast members and directors jumping ship. Departures included Barry Levinson, Nick Cassavetes, Al Pacino, Lindsay Lohan and Joe Pesci. Pesci was cast in one role, then relegated to another, at which point he said “fuck this” and sued the producers! Pesci rarely acts so you would think you might want to make him happy.
All that chaos had to hurt. But Travolta, who is not a bad likeness for the real-life mobster John Gotti, had so much belief that this could be the role of a lifetime that his hard work just about makes the film watchable.
The director is Kevin Connolly, who played one of those bellends from Entourage (remember that show?). Connolly was obviously a last-minute choice after a semi-competent director left the sinking ship. The script by Lem Dobbs was probably pretty good, but was so clearly ruined by the over two dozen producers and the director that its narrative is completely jumbled up (and not in an intentional, arty way.) The film literally starts with Travolta, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, going on about how “New York City is the greatest city in the world…” Yes, it’s parody gangsta filmmaking 101.
Gotti is an embarrassment to everybody, and that’s not helped by the awful score made up of generic “rock” music. It’s so bad that even Shazam can’t find it. Travolta plays Gotti from the early ’70s to his death in the late ’90s, with various wigs and, until the end, not a huge amount of prosthetics, which is just comical… Travolta is bald, by the way, he has used spray-on hair before.
It’s a shame, because Travolta should have another Pulp Fiction moment. After his great turn in The People v. O. J. Simpson, I thought he might finally get his chance, but no cigar. Stacey Keach gives his best as Aniello Dellacroce, who was Gotti’s mentor.
The disc includes a standard 11-minute making-of based around interviews with Travolta and co.