A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gotti is a biographical movie based on the life of mob boss John Gotti (John Travolta). Unfortunately, it celebrates violence, lying, and the abuse of power while trashing law enforcement and the press. There are several bloody shootings, a scene of torture, and fighting, punching, and slapping. A child is also hit and killed by a car (not shown on-screen). Language is extremely strong, with a constant stream of "f--k," "motherf----r," "c--ksucker," and much more. Characters occasionally drink socially and smoke cigars, and there are brief sexual references. It's an amateurish, incomprehensible mess, and it's unlikely that many teens will be interested (unless it's to purposely see how bad it really is).
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What's the story?
In GOTTI, notorious mob boss John Gotti (John Travolta) is serving one of several life terms in prison. He gets a visit from his son (Spencer Lofranco), who's now going to trial and is looking at taking a plea bargain. Gotti flashes back over his life, a fair bit of which he spent committing murders for the Gambino crime family in New York and advancing through the ranks. When he secretly kills the mob boss, he's elected to be the new head of the family. But the FBI is constantly after him, and after years of trying, they manage to make certain accusations stick. Nonetheless, Gotti is considered a hero around town, and no matter what the law does to him, he's still a legend.
Is it any good?
Travolta clearly put in great effort to play John Gotti, but he's stuck in an incomprehensible mess of a movie that was shot like a clueless knockoff of a Martin Scorsese gangster epic. Many characters in Gotti are briefly introduced via titles on the screen, and the movie clumsily blunders ahead as if viewers have retained everything; there are no visual cues to keep track of anything. Francis Coppola's Godfather movies brilliantly juggled many characters who were easily identifiable. Almost every scene in Gotti consists of actors sitting in dimly lit rooms and discussing other characters by first names that have little or no meaning to those watching.
The movie's occasional violent scenes are all filmed and edited exactly as we've seen them before, in better films, and accompanied, arbitrarily, by "ironic" pieces of pop music (or Christmas music, if the scene happens to be set around the holidays). This is the kind of thing Scorsese excels at, and Gotti only demonstrates why other filmmakers don't. It's basically a collection of highlights with nothing to fill in the blanks and make any of it mean anything. It's close to being a disaster; if the real Gotti knew that this was part of his legacy, people would certainly be rubbed out.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does the movie view Gotti? Is he a hero? A rebel? A criminal? What are his admirable achievements? His unsavory ones?
Does the movie seem accurate? Where does it feel like a true story? Where does it depart from the truth? How can you tell?
How does Gotti compare to other mobster movies you've seen?
How are women treated in the movie? Do they have any moments of power or expression? Why do you think women aren't part of this world of gangsters?
- In theaters: June 15, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: September 25, 2018
- Cast: John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Stacy Keach, Pruitt Taylor Vince
- Director: Kevin Connolly
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence and pervasive language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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