Disjointed, bizarre, and a bit of a mess, GOTTI (2018) is neither good enough to be worthwhile, or bad enough to become a guilty pleasure. What it is, however, is probably the first unquestionably pro-Mafia movie you will ever see; as well as a glowing ‘He is a folk hero who protected the neighborhood’ tribute to a man who got put away for five murders.
Equal parts misguided and goofy, GOTTI is most likely going to invite comparisons to much better mob fare (HBO’s similarly-titled 1996 movie, for one, is far superior) because it feels like a watered-down version of everything from GOODFELLAS to The Sopranos to that sketch where Joe Piscopo performed for Tony DiNono.
As the title character (and one of the film’s MANY producers), John Travolta brings a lot of baggage to his portrayal of the infamous crime boss. Considering his own history of well-documented accomplishments and troubling controversies, Travolta may simply be too big of a personality to fully disappear into any character – but, in all fairness, even a more appropriate actor would not have been able to save this picture from itself.
Based on John Gotti, Jr.’s memoir, “Shadow of My Father,” this long-delayed biopic was originally set for a VOD release last December 15th before Lionsgate pulled the plug only ten days beforehand in order to sell it back to its producers. Vertical Entertainment stepped in as the film’s new distributor, customer service legend MoviePass acquired an equity stake in the film, and discussing all of this is more interesting than anything that takes place on-screen.
Kevin Connolly’s GOTTI feels about as deep and introspective as a Wikipedia entry, and it plays like a – no pun intended – collection of the mobster’s greatest hits. While Travolta gets to enjoy chewing every last piece of scenery, the only other character that’s paid any real attention is Gotti’s eldest son, John “Junior” (a woefully miscast Spencer Lofranco). In the scenes where the baby-faced 25-year-old is attempting to pass himself off as being nearly twice his age, Lofranco is about as convincing at the Cincinnati filming locations that are standing in for New York City.
Also, the musical score was done, in part, by Pitbull.
One out of Five Beers.