The Mariana Trench of John Travolta's Career (Gotti)
Gotti. The masterpiece that is Gotti. Pulp Fiction? Get that shit out of here. Grease? Pschh, who cares about musicals. No no, it's all about Gotti, the flop that signposts Travolta's streak of five 0% rated films on Rotten Tomatoes.
What is this film about? Genuinely, what is the plot of this film?
Is it about Gotti becoming the Kingpin of the *insert generic Italian name* crime family? Is it about Gotti leading the crime family? Is it about Gotti's interactions with his family and friends? Is it about all the crime that the (surprise surprise) crime family, including Gotti, commits? Or is it about Gotti's son going through his legal battle with being the head of the family? The film cannot even manage to address any of these boring-ass questions to a satisfying amount. Questions are asked at every turn and nothing is answered. Let's list the reasons why this film is hot garbage:
1) John Travolta sucks. You wanna know Travolta's incredible acting technique for this "film"? He frowns, holds his hand to face-level, and wags his finger at the person. That is essentially the 105 minute run-time of this film. His accent is shit, his acting is shit, and his delivery is shit. His character makes no goddamn sense. We're not given any motivation behind Gotti's actions other than the *thick Boston accent* 'FAMILY'. His interactions with the other characters are just so painful to watch. There isn't much to say about Travolta to be honest, he's just appalling. Why did he start and end the film breaking the fourth wall? Was that a stylistic choice? All I learned from that is that 'Nu Yauhk iz de gratest fackin' cidi in de wohrld'. Travolta used to be an acclaimed actor (having two Oscar nominations to his name for Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Pulp Fiction (1994)), but now he's simply regarded as a joke.
2) The son, Junior. Who's literally only called that once at the very end or something. The actor who plays this dickwad is a bad actor. Just plain terrible. His motivation is so underdeveloped I forgot completely that he met that girl at the New Years thing (more on that GCSE-level trainwreck of a scene later). After Gotti is sent to prison (damn, who saw that coming?), Junior becomes head of the Gambino crime family. Slight problem though: he is not intimidating in the slightest! That scene in the garage where he shows he can lead the family with Gotti in jail is laughably bad, because this child looks twelve. How is he the one to lead the Gambino family, what redeeming factor does this wet blanket have? His slick-back haircut? Fair enough, yeah, that's a good point. One thing also, the last scene with him and Gotti, holy shit that is top-notch artistry. Instead of this hack of a director simply maintaining this hard-boiled perspective of the son (keeping him sad but composed, for example), he gets him to cry. Real simple: cry. But this idiot of an actor (who's paid to do this) can't do that because that's too much effort. So does the director use some drops to have the fake tear slowly go down this infant's face? Nope! This film's only got a $10 million budget. So we cut back to the son after seeing Travolta's stone face with a stationary tear half-way down this embryo's face. Not moving. No emotion behind it. Just a tear stuck in the middle of his face through the entirety of this shot. For God's sake, who willingly made this garbage?
3) The editing. Oh God the editing. I had no idea what was going on this film, at all, at any moment. The film would cut back and forth so often from Gotti in prison, Gotti in trial and Gotti with his young kids that I thought I would develop epilepsy just from watching this. Also, the fact that there were a bajillion sub-plots meant that you got whiplash by the end of each scene (better than the nausea at the end of the film). In one scene we're introduced to a character, next scene he's dead. In one scene we're introduced to a character, next scene she's married. In one scene we're introduced to a character, next scene we're at his funeral. Like what the fuck? S l o w d o w n. I know crime films are supposed to be fast-paced and everything, but I didn't know what was happening and surprisingly I didn't care enough to rewind.
4) The script. Arguably the worst thing about this film. I'd like to say that there's potential in this script but that's suggesting that they were going somewhere when they wrote this swill. Unfulfilled jokes, jokes that made no sense, jokes that were plain terrible and dialogue so rigid and wooden. This is an example of a "j o k e" that comedy genius John Travolta delivered with such ease and excellence: 'He's on a jet. He's over Iceland and the stewardess comes up and she says, "My name is Pussy Galore." He says "I must be dreaming."' ...that was it. What? What? How is that a joke? Where was I supposed to laugh? How did that relate to the plot? Who's 'He'? Fuck this film.
5) This film is cheap. This film had a budget of $10 million. The Godfather, in comparison, had a budget of maximum $6.5 million ($39 million apparently if you convert it from 1972). Regardless, no matter how low or high a budget, there is no reason for your film to be cheap. There is certainly no reason for your film to look cheaper than Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. The New Years Day scene is an example. I laughed at that scene. Genuinely cackled. Gotti is shown to be a nice guy and whatever, shooting fireworks for all the city people. Let's list down everything wrong with this scene: the lighting is so dark you can't see anyone for shit; we're introduced to a new character in about seven seconds, never see her again for about half an hour, then see her at her wedding with Junior (well what the fuck happened in between, huh?); and the footage for the fireworks is essentially a YouTube video. That's just the technical garbage of this scene, the content is just as bad. The fireworks (which, bear in mind, the director didn't have to show in the film, light effects work just as well) look like they've been shot on a laptop camera. I can't stress enough, the fireworks sucked ass, it's honestly worse than I'm describing. How else is this film cheap? Sets. Or lack thereof. From memory there are three sets: the Gotti house, the prison, and the bar. Take any crime film, there are exciting sets that have relevance to the story. The Bond films, for instance, have some of the greatest sets and locations ever put to film (Casino Royale sticks out from the rest). For a crime drama film that's two hours long, we expect exciting sets that leave the viewer in awe. Not the same generic sets that have the same beige colour pattern.
Who cared in this film? Other than maybe John Travolta. Who was complicit in making a product so mindbogglingly bad? I know I've asked a lot of questions in this review but that's what this film makes me feel; confused. I don't know what it's about, I frankly did not learn anything about Gotti himself, and I felt like I was watching a biopic about Junior as opposed to Gotti. The only redeeming factor of this god-forsaken mess is their use of real public footage of genuine people's perspective of Gotti. That was actually great. That's what you expect from a competent crime film. The rest (dialogue about class structure, initiation programmes, straight As in report cards etc. etc. etc.) is what not to do when making a film that's about crime (key word here: crime, maybe focus on that next time the idiots who shat out this crap).