‘Gotti’ tries its hardest but fails miserably

Courtesy gotti-movie.com

By Sam Rodd, Entertainment Editor

Though cinema is a form of art, we live in a time where artistic movies are swept under the rug by effortless, mind numbing movies released to make a quick profit. To its credit, “Gotti” is not one of these movies. Unfortunately, the compliments for “Gotti” end there, as this film quickly cements itself as one of the worst movies of the year so far.

Here is where a summary of the plot of whatever movie being reviewed would go. There is one problem however: “Gotti” doesn’t have a story. There is no logical chain of events to follow that one could call a story. No two scenes are entirely related; the movie just jumps back and forth between different years, showing different events that John Gotti was present for.

This leads to another huge problem: none of the events shown give any insight into who John Gotti was as a person. Most stories in general have a big event (or inciting incident, as it’s usually referred to) near the beginning that puts the protagonist on a journey that the audience will follow for the next 2 or so hours. The inciting incident for “Gotti” should have been obvious: how John Gotti got involved with the mob. Instead, the movie drops the viewer many years into Gotti’s career as a “made man”, starting with Gotti being ordered to carry out a hit on some other mobster.

After this scene, the movie jumps from the 1970’s to 2002, where Gotti is talking to his son in prison. This jumping continues throughout the entire movie, and the viewer is never really sure what’s going on. The various out of order events switch so quickly that they leave the audience with whiplash.

The scenes are only connected by Gotti’s narration throughout the film. The movie begins with a ridiculous scene of John Gotti speaking directly to the audience. This narration throughout is jarring, as the audience knows that this is John Travolta speaking, not Gotti himself. The narration forces the audience to remember that they are watching someone play a famous mobster, breaking the illusion that bio-pics rely upon.

On the topic of Travolta’s performance, you can tell he’s having a good time portraying the character, and he definitely tried to make something great- but that’s still not saying much. His performance, while an impassioned one, feels like a stereotype of a gangster. The purpose of movies like these is to give insight into famous people whose inner thoughts and beliefs go unknown by many. The subject should be humanized. Instead, Travolta feels like he watched a different mobster movie and copied every stereotype he could- even letting out a cheesy “whatsamattawithyou?!” at one point in the film.

Another jarring aspect of this movie is its soundtrack. Pop artist Pitbull was one of the people who worked on it, and there are instances where his music is playing in the 1980’s, well before he was making music. It’s one thing to have modern music score a scene that takes place before the music was made, but to have the music being played by the characters in the movie is ridiculous, and is an anachronism that can’t be overlooked.

Finally, the most curious part of this film is the way it treats its subject matter.Even with its lack of a proper story, the movie manages to glorify organized crime, which is the opposite of what it should be doing. Despite showing Gotti murder several people throughout the film, the movie tries to make the viewer sympathize with him. It praises Gotti as a family and community man and takes a staunch anti-government stance. There is a bit of text right before the credits roll that tries to paint Gotti and his son, John Gotti Jr., as victims, when in reality they were both heavily involved with the New York mafia. Some movies can be very effective in making political or social statements, but “Gotti” makes a point that is simply incorrect.

To summarize, “Gotti” is bad. Atrocious even. Not all of the negative aspects could even be touched upon here. It’s not even “so bad it’s good”, It’s just bad and boring. However, it’s refreshing to see that this movie isn’t bad because no effort was put in, but rather, it’s bad because bad decisions were made along the way. It feels like the director, Kevin Connolly, and John Travolta (who portrays Gotti) really cared about the life of John Gotti, and wanted to make an interesting bio-pic about his life. 

While good movies are preferable, it’s nice to see a movie that’s bad, just because it is, rather than because a Hollywood money-making machine needed a quick buck. So, if you’re looking for a textbook example of how not to make a movie, go see “Gotti”. However, if you’re not fascinated by how movies this bad can be made, pass on this one. It’s not worth the $15.