Cementing his place as the undisputed anti-Paddington 2 of his film-making generation, John Travolta has just passed yet another cinematic milestone, scoring his third zero-percent, certified “Rotten” score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Travolta pulled down the auspicious Triple Splat for his much-delayed gangster biopic Gotti, which has finally poked its head out into the light of day, only to get it slapped around like an extra in Goodfellas by the assembled critics. (Our own Mike D’Angelo dubbed the movie “a scowling bore,” and that’s pretty middle-of-the-road for the kind of disdain professionals have been heaping on the film.)
Gotti has had a long and extremely troubled history, passing through four different directors (and dozens of producers) as it attempted to make some sort of coherent, interesting story out of the life of alleged mob boss John Gotti Sr.. In fact, Travolta has been one of the only stable things about the entire 7-year production, his heavily made-up mug serving as the lure drawing in directors like Barry Levinson, Nick Cassavetes, and Captain America director Joe Johnston, before finally landing in the hands of Kevin “E from Entourage” Connolly, who turned in a film the New York Times dubbed a “multifacted…dismal mess.”
A few caveats for this feather in Travolta’s movie-making cap, though: It’s worth remembering that RT’s Tomatometer is a measurement of the percentage of critics recommending audiences go see a movie, not an averaging of its actual scores, so while none of the 17 professional critics polled so far suggest you spend a moment of your life on Gotti, its actual critical rating is hovering somewhere around 29 percent, not 0. Meanwhile, Travolta’s other total splats are technically retroactive, since Staying Alive and Look Who’s Talking Now! both predate the internet era. And for what it’s worth, non-critics seem to be enjoying the movie a lot more: Rotten Tomatoes’ audience score puts it at a positively effusive 84 percent, suggesting that there’s some kind of audience out there for watching John Travolta walk around in a nice suit and eight pounds of makeup, yelling at people for fun.