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With A 0% Rotten Tomatoes Rating, John Travolta's 'Gotti' Spins A Critical Conspiracy Theory

By Kristy Puchko | Film | June 19, 2018 |

By Kristy Puchko | Film | June 19, 2018 |


Over its opening weekend, John Travolta’s Gotti earned a dubious distinction of 0% Rotten Tomatoes score, putting it alongside movies like The Layover, The Disappointments Room, and Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas. That means not a single RT-affiliated critic posted a positive review of the Kevin Connolly-directed John Gotti biopic. In response, the marketing team behind Gotti went on the offensive with a bold new ad and a lame old attack.

You can watch this ad without sound and not miss the key points:

“Audiences loved Gotti,” the first title card reads. Then: “Critics put out the hit.” Ooooo mob talk! Finally, it offers a surprising new tag line: “Who would you trust more? Yourself or a troll behind a keyboard?” DING! DING! DING! Fans versus Critics, round…I’ve lost count.

When this ad claims audiences loved Gotti, they mean the users on Rotten Tomatoes who are not certified critics.

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Users like these:

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A couple of notes: Rotten Tomatoes works on a binary. When a critic enters a review, their options are to rate it “fresh” or “rotten.” So a 3 1/2 review like the one above, could go either way. That does not mean that a movie with a 100% is flawless, or that a movie with 0% is without any merit. (The The Layover; however, definitely is.) Secondly, you may not like what the critics have to say. But a bare minimum for us when reviewing a movie is that we actually have to view it first. That does not seem to be a requirement for RT’s audience reviews.

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Typically, movie ads run pull-quotes of critical praise. But when you don’t have critical praise, then why not pull out the old, “This one is for the fans” argument. Fans of what? Gotti? Travolta? Movies that have no sense of pace, momentum, or character? I’m not sure. Having contributed to that 0%, I obviously cannot be trusted. But for what it’s worth, I’d only recommend seeing Gotti in theaters if you want a private place to take a nap or maybe pull off some shady business without witnesses.

While Gotti’s ad aims to make critics look bad, Film Twitter was pretty amused that it called the lot of us conspiratorial untrustworthy trolls.

That Gotti ad is meant to entice you by suggesting YOU are an individual and a rebel. It seeks to call to mind all the times you didn’t agree with critics. Maybe you hated the new Ghostbusters. Maybe you think Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got a bad rap. Maybe you think Moonlight was boring. Maybe you think you could do it better. They don’t speak for you. Cool. It’s not our job to speak for you.

Each of us writes from our own perspective because reviews are inherently subjective and personal. We are not consumer reporters or scientists. There are no right answers, just opinions. And I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there is no sinister cabal or conspiratorial meetings where we determine which movie will be the next to suffer our mighty wrath of critical loathing. If you want to see a movie that we’re warning you is “a connect-the-dots disaster,” “an incomprehensible mess,” and “a crime against cinema,” to prove some kind of point to us about how you’re an individual or a nonconformist or whatever, go right ahead.

As Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson put it:

Just remember, we tried to warn you.

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Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.