GOTTI — Review by Susan Granger

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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.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.