For many years, John Travolta was obsessed with playing mobster John Gotti, aging from 32 to 61. “John Gotti Jr. gave me his father’s coat, jackets, shirts, neckties, watches, cufflinks, pocket squares – and the whole wardrobe fit me perfectly,” he recalls. A fighter, schemer and gossip, John Gotti was “the last modern gangster,” according to Travolta. Continue reading…
Indeed, Gotti admits, “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster….This life ends one of two ways: dead or in jail. I did both.”
Growing up as an Italian-American kid in Englewood, New Jersey, young John Gotti was told by his father, Salvatore, that the mafia didn’t exist. As an ambitious fledgling, he worked for Neil Dellacroce (Stacy Keach) and became an enforcer for Carlo Gambino (Michael Cipiti).
Gotti clawed his way to the Dapper Don pinnacle after having syndicate boss Paul Castellano (Donald John Volpenheim) shot outside Sparks Steakhouse in 1985.
Married to his wife Victoria (played by Travolta’s real-life wife Kelly Preston) for 27 years, he sired five children, including John Gotti Jr. (Spencer Rocco Laofranco). Tragedy struck when his 12 year-old son Frank died in a car accident in front of his home.
Drawing on John Gotti Jr.’s memoir “Shadow of my Father,” it’s incoherently scripted by Lem Dobbs and Leo Rossi, and haphazardly directed by Kevin Connolly with music by Pitbull.
While Travolta’s narration pointlessly meanders through the high-and-low points of John Gotti’s life, the concept itself morphed over a period of eight years, whirling through three different titles, four directors (Nick Cassavetes, Barry Levinson, Joe Johnston, Kevin Connolly) and 44 producers.
There was even one arrest – Fiore films’ mogul Marco Fiore – for investor fraud; he served four years at the Allenwood (PA) State Penitentiary for a boiler-room scheme that scammed millions.
Two weeks before it opened, the distributor Lionsgate sold this unmitigated disaster back to its producers, including Travolta.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Gotti” is a troubled 2, a bungled biopic.