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'Gotti' loses a director, gains critics. Could the film turn the mob boss into an anti-hero?

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Travolta John Gotti
Tina Gill/PR Photos; Richard Drew/AP Images

Looks like Gotti‘s got some trouble on its hands. The biopic, which stars John Travolta as infamous mob boss John Gotti, Sr., has been hit with two minor setbacks: 1) A rep for Gotti: Three Generations confirms to EW Variety‘s report that director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) has dropped out of the picture in order to complete production on his passion project, Yellow, and 2) Victims and critics of the mob boss are speaking out against a film that might only prove to glorify Gotti. And you thought Lindsay Lohan‘s possible involvement would be the Gotti‘s most scandalous run-in!

But, in response to those critics, I simply wonder: Is it possible to make a movie about a mob boss that portrays him in a positive light? Sure, there’s something to say about the draw of anti-heroes: Some of the worst characters in Hollywood history, from a moral point of view, have whipped up a fanbase that regularly quotes them as if they were Kissinger. Just see: Tony Montana, Keyser Söze, Hannibal Lecter. But if any of those three characters were real, would we find ourselves fighting the urge to tape pictures of men who dealt drugs, murdered and ate human flesh on our dorm room walls? With the exception of a few troubled individuals, I’d say no. And if the Gotti filmmakers were dedicated to portraying the mob family accurately, as they have insisted they are, it seems it would be impossible to avoid touching on the decidedly unglamorous gangster lifestyle. You know, the parts that don’t involve beautiful women and horse heads, but real-life murder plots and family anguish. And a rep for Fiore Films, the production company behind Gotti, tells EW that critics should hold their anger before seeing the actual film: “We’re not responding to these criticisms, because the people who are making them have not read the script,” says the rep.

Yet, if we’ve learned anything from The Godfather, every mob-centric comedy, and, most recently, Mob Wives, it’s that the mafia are a kooky, fascinating, and oftentimes lovable bunch, regardless of their nefarious background: Obviously, a dangerous misconception that proves hurtful for anyone whose family has been affected by organized crime. Could Gotti continue that misconception?

What do you think, PopWatchers? Do critics have a point? Or should they wait to judge until the film’s on the big screen?

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateWardEW

Read more:

Lindsay Lohan as Victoria Gotti? Why it would work.

New details on the ‘Gotti’ picture

John Travolta likely set to play John Gotti. Do you prefer your Travolta family-friendly, or bad-ass?

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