As of late Tuesday evening, Gotti had achieved something truly remarkable.
The movie, a biopic tracing the life of crime lord John Gotti that stars John Travolta and Kelly Preston, joined the ranks of Look Who’s Talking Now!, Highlander II: The Quickening and Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol by earning a zero per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
That means not one single critic recommended the movie.
As reviews continue to roll in, that number might be subject to change. But the harshness of these reviews won’t:
“I’d rather wake up next to a severed horse head than ever watch Gotti again,” Johnny Oleksinski wrote in the New York Post, calling it “the worst mob movie of all time.”
“He may have been a murderer, but even Gotti deserved better than this,” Brian Tallerico wrote for RoberEbert.com.
Rather than dispute the reviews, the marketing team behind Gotti has leaned into them with a new ad — and blasted film critics with insults along the way.
The movie tweeted the ad from its official account, with the caption “Audiences loved Gotti but critics don’t want you to see it... The question is why??? Trust the people and see it for yourself!”
The ad itself mixes scenes from the movie along with a voice-over that says, “We’ve never been under this kind of scrutiny” and “You fight until you can’t fight no more. Never back off. Ever.”
Then a crowd chants: “Gotti! Gotti! Gotti!”
Meanwhile, “AUDIENCES LOVED GOTTI,” flashes across the screen in giant block letters, followed by, “CRITICS PUT OUT THE HIT. WHO WOULD YOU TRUST MORE? YOU OR A TROLL BEHIND A KEYBOARD.”
First things first: Evidence highly suggests that audiences do not “love” or even like Gotti. To begin with, it made a mere $1.9 million (Dh6.97 million) in its first weekend. Compare that to Tag, which opened the same weekend and garnered $14.9 million or the Incredibles 2, which earned $182.7 million.
Secondly, it has a dismal 5.1/10 rating on IMDb, about the same as the aforementioned Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol.
The only evidence to suggest the movie is any good is the Rotten Tomatoes user-generated audience score, which sits at 71 per cent as of Tuesday evening. That’s shockingly high, considering the other ratings. Also high is the number of users who reviewed it: 6,974. That’s only about 700 fewer people than reviewed Incredibles 2, even though the Pixar cartoon earned 20,000 per cent more at the box office.
This led Mashable to wonder if the movie is getting fake reviews, sort of the inverse of when hundreds of thousands of internet trolls from Reddit and 4Chan gave negative ratings the female reboot of Ghostbusters. (Rotten Tomatoes told Mashable that the reviews are by “real users,” as opposed to bots.)
For what it’s worth, Gotti’s son John Gotti, Jr., who is portrayed in the film by Spencer Lofranco, seemed to enjoy it. He told the New York Post that he would give it a 7 out of 10, even thought Travolta “doesn’t have my father’s natural swagger.” He also wishes it was longer, making him (probably) the only person to feel this way.
So, let’s assume the movie isn’t very good. Whether there was anything to suggest this might be the outcome depends on how rose-tinted your glasses are.
The movie was directed by Kevin Connolly, who you likely know not as a film director but as E, the most mature character in HBO’s Entourage, a celebration of bro-culture centred on four womanising man-children in Hollywood.
Connolly hasn’t done much directing before. He helmed two episodes of his show, including one titled Porn Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. He’s also directed a few indie films. The most prominent two are 2007’s Gardener of Eden and 2016’s Dear Eleanor. Neither received enough professional reviews to earn a Rotten Tomatoes score, but they both earned about a six out of 10 from users on IMDb.
Regardless of the film’s quality, it had an estimated $10 million budget, meaning it’s a box office disaster, which isn’t good for MoviePass — as strange as that might sound. The service’s finance arm, MoviePass Ventures, recently took an equity stake in the movie. It’s only been financially involved with one other film: American Animals. That movie has an 85 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
So perhaps there’s a bunch of trolls wanting to take down the film. Or maybe it just isn’t very good.