After nearly a decade filled with director shuffles, casting lawsuits and name changes, Gotti: Gabagool Lasagna Bang Bang! was finally released in theaters this month. The hilariously chaotic behind-the-scenes production gave way to a film that is being heralded by critics as the worst mob movie in history—it has a very rare zero rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 24 on Metacritic. For others, like myself, the promise of seeing John Travolta overact in a comically oversized wig while engaging in every mob movie cliche made this the movie event of the summer.

So far, the film—which MoviePass has an equity stake in—has made barely over $3 million (with a $10 million budget) and fallen out of the top ten box office films in its second weekend. The film's marketing department went into overdrive last week to try to salvage something from the disaster. Their main talking point is that while nasty critics hated the film, the people who paid money to see it loved it—and they loved it so much they took to sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango to write positive audience reviews (the film has a 59% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes as it stands).

Some have argued that if you parse those Rotten Tomatoes audience numbers a bit, they look awfully fishy—a lot like someone was trying to bump up the audience rating for the film with lots of suspicious users writing their first or second reviews about the film.

John Gotti Jr., whose book Shadow of My Father was the basis for the film, agrees that there is something fishy is happening with those Rotten Tomatoes scores. But he has a slightly different take on what's really going on. We spoke to Gotti Jr. about the critical and audience reactions to the film, why it took so long to bring the story to life, and whether or not he feels he escaped "the life."

I want to start off by going back a little bit. I know that this movie has been a passion project of yours for almost a decade now. The film went through several name changes. It had director and cast turnovers, it was delayed again and again. Why was it so complicated bringing this story to life? Well, that's Hollywood. That's the Hollywood process. You know how many movies that start out that are going to get made and they sit on the shelf five, 10, 20 years even? If I remember correctly, even Scorsese at one time had said that the movie's actually done when the movie's actually done. It takes so many years and such a process that you have to go run this gauntlet.

In this particular case, this movie started out with a company called Fiore Films. They, I assumed, started out with good intentions. They had investors. They thought they had enough money. They were trying to produce a $70 million budget movie. That's what got me onboard. They're really interested in the story. They had approached me to obtain the rights to this story, and I sold them the rights.

A screenplay was created by Leo Rossi. It's a wonderful screenplay. The movie would have been three hours and 20 minutes long. So I was hooked, I was hooked. It was going to get done, and it was going to get done the right way. We had the ability to tell the story, or as much of the story you could possibly tell, in three hours and 20 minutes. This is really a 10 part series to be honest with you.

But the movie, the way it turned out now it's...you're trying to tell the story that should be a 10 part series in under 100 minutes. So during the early process, the promises were all there. The hook was in my mouth. I was reeled in. Again, I'm a story. That's all I am. I'm not behind the scenes. I don't own the movie. I don't produce the movie. I don't do any of those things. It just began to break down. I guess in fighting with individuals, investors that were there weren't really there. I'm told that happens often in Hollywood. Directors changed. New people jumped on board. It just kept going back and forth though.

It got to a point there where I finally had said, "You know what guys, when you get your act together, give me a call." I just divorced myself from the process. I was probably divorcing the process for a good two and a half, three years until the second group started, and then the third group got onboard. Ultimately, the movie was made. There was a promise of a budget that wasn't really in place. You had different variables working here.

In the end it ended up with Ed Walson. Ed Walson is probably the only person so far I've dealt with in the Hollywood circle that's honored his word. He's never one time lied. Everything he said he was going to do he did. Actually what got me back onboard was that I'm loyal to John Travolta. John Travolta was a constant throughout this whole process. He's a loyalist. He didn't make money on this movie. He lost money. It was a passion project of his, okay? And he did a great job with it.

But Ed Walson in the end, to get me back on board, had said to me, "Listen. I want you to sit and help us, guide us with the material that we have. We'll do our best to fix this movie and make it right. And if you're not satisfied at the end of the day, John, if you don't like the movie, I'll scrap it. I'll scrap it. I'll scrap the monies that I paid Lionsgate to buy the rights. I'll scrap the prints and advertising and I'll take all the lawsuits that are going to be coming my way as a result of investors and other individuals that are involved with the movie." So when he had said that he had won me over. At that point I said, "I will do business with this guy."

And are you satisfied with the final product? The reviews have not been so great so far. I'm going to tell you, I'm satisfied with the end result. What I'm not satisfied with is this fighting, and I'm confused. I really don't know the Hollywood business. I'm confused that the movie had started out...Rotten Tomatoes, for example, had given it an 83% viewer approval rating but zero rotten tomatoes out of 23 critics that had rated it. Now to me, that tells me there's something wrong with the process or there's a tremendous disconnect between the critics and their viewers, okay.

Now suddenly when that was brought to their attention, how could this be at 83, you started seeing approval ratings dropping, okay. Now I believe they're somewhere around 67%. Still you have these 23 or 24 critics that say zero. Now if you go to Fandango who owns Rotten Tomatoes, they've given the movie three and a half out of four stars. That's a high ranking, okay. They own Rotten Tomatoes. So again, it's showing me that somewhere, somehow there's a disconnect here. I would have to believe that again, the powers that be believe this and have clued me into this, and it makes a lot of sense.

It sort of seems like it's not so much the movie. It's sort of seems like it's more like Fandango and MoviePass are in a shoving match because they're competitors. MoviePass owns a percentage of this movie. So therefore that creates a conflict. I believe that Fandango has it in for MoviePass and MoviePass is starting to push a little bit back. I believe we're getting caught up on it. The Gotti movie's getting caught somewhere in the middle.

Have you read many of the reviews? Why do you think it's not connecting with critics? Well, it is connecting with critics. You have critics here. I don't know what's piloting their boat. Take for example, you have a critic named Johnny Oleksinski. He was affiliated with The NY Post. He gave us a horrible review. [The headline of his review: "Gotti flick is the worst mob movie of all time"] He completely trashed the movie.

But one of the consultants, or one of the individuals that the Post had weigh in regarding this movie, was a long time government cooperator since the '90s who was convicted along with six other guys of luring one man to his death and killing him. He's convicted of beating and abusing his wife. This guy's been harassing people online, has been thrown off Facebook, has been thrown off Instagram for harassing women online, okay. His own son has been cooperating with my next project which is called Witsec Mafia. He's been telling us about how his father abused him and all the abuse and the crimes his father has been committing since being released into the witness protection program.

But yet The Post had used this guy as somewhat of a consultant to weigh in regarding the Gotti movie. Now do you find something wrong with that? I do. [Gotti is referring to former alleged Gambino crime family associate John Alite, who testified against Gotti Jr. in 2009 and told the Post he thought the film features "bad acting" and "horrible writing," adding that Gotti "was never a legit street guy and all of us real killers [and] gangsters know this." In 2008, Alite admitted involvement in two murders, four murder conspiracies, at least eight shootings and two attempted shootings as part of a plea deal. Alite claimed in a book that he had plotted to murder Gotti Jr. in the early '90s. Gotti Jr. was also the best man at Alite's marriage in 1989.]

So, are you saying that you think there is some sort of conspiracy and behind-the-scenes rivalry that is driving a lot of the negativity toward the film? I do believe that. I do believe it. Being so fair here, Ben, I'm a moviegoer, I take my second boy, Johnny and I, we go to the movies twice a month. Every two weeks we go. I'm a pretty tough critic, okay. I've always said this movie needed to be repaired. It was repaired. Ed Walson had come in at the end and repaired this movie.

I rate it a seven. Not a ten, a seven, okay. I was honest about that. I've enjoyed watching it. Every individual that's watched it, the vast majority have graded along those lines. To have such a disconnect between the actual viewers that it started out at three and a half stars with Fandango, plus 83% viewer approval rating with Rotten Tomatoes to go to a zero Rotten Tomatoes with the critics. I mean that's sort of akin to...am I allowed to curse?

Oh yeah, go for it. Okay good. Well that's akin to you getting caught cheating on your wife. You're in a room with a girl and she walks in and you're going to say, "you're going to believe me or your lying eyes?" along those lines. Something's not right here. It just doesn't make any sense.

Also, what has been fed back to me is that it's several individuals. One was a fellow named Jeff Lowman who has a show called Mob Talk Radio. I don't know him, I've never met the man. But it was related back through my sister who is always on the internet—I'm not computer savvy, I never go on the computer ever—it was related back to my sister that he posted a positive review of the movie and talked about it on his radio show. They took it down. He did it again on Rotten Tomatoes again. They had taken it down. Just to see what the problem was he posted a negative review, they left it up.

So that tells me that something's wrong here. That would tell me that something's wrong here. Again, I'm not a Hollywood guy. I can't figure this thing out. It's not my end of the business. My end of the business was to tell a story. I had written a book called Shadow of the Father and I told the story. That's my job. Everything else is beyond me. But again, you come away with a conclusion that something's just not right here. It's not 100% aboveboard here.

I think the disconnect you're talking about is definitely there. And there's been a lot of strange things around the Rotten Tomatoes numbers between the critics and the audience scores. But I was just reading this morning that there is another theory, that a certain amount of the audience reviews were made by people who had just created new accounts, and had only reviewed one or two films. I don't know if that suggests that these are all people who previously were not engaged in making reviews, or if this means it may be a marketing ploy that people behind the film are writing fake reviews to boost the audience score. But you still have Fandango and they're three and a half stars of the movie and they own Rotten Tomatoes. You have to explain that then too. You have to venture to explain that as well. I do believe also there are a lot of new reviewers coming in because I believe the powers that be with the movie are now fighting back and they're doing a campaign. The campaign basically is: see it for yourself. Go see it for yourself! Are the critics right? Because they're saying that you're wrong. They're saying the viewers are wrong, so go see it for yourself. So that's basically why you probably have a whole slew of new reviews coming in.

In terms of the finished film, you said you were mostly satisfied with it. Is there anything that you would have changed in particular? Yes. Plenty. And let me tell you something Ben. [Deep Sigh] The movie should have been a lot longer. That's one of my hang-ups with the movie that it's 100 minutes long. If you're basing it on the book that I had written, the book was 600 pages long, okay. That even now, I'm still working on adding more material to the book. So if this could have been a 10 part series. It's really impossible to get the story [in 100 minutes]. It sort of gets crammed in.

Travolta did an amazing job. He plays my father in MCFP Springfield, he did an absolutely amazing job. If you watch that tape—and that tape was introduced as evidence in my trials—if you watch that tape you see John Gotti coming back to life. That's what you see. He did a great job with it. That's why I just hope that more people would go in there and weigh in on their own and rate John's performance.

Because I tell you, my mother's a tough critic. She's the toughest. She's a tough old gal, she really is. She loved what John had done with the character of my father, and believe me he's still so fresh in everybody's minds, my father. He's only dead 16 years, June 10th was 16 years, okay. So it's hard. It's not like you're portraying a character like Al Capone, he died some 70 odd years ago. Whereas he's not fresh in everybody's minds, John Gotti is still fresh in everybody's minds or most people's minds, or at least in our generations minds. That's for sure, okay. So it's that much harder to play that part, to play that person. I think John did a fine job.

There's a line in the film, that I believe is also in the trailer, where Travolta says, "This life of ours is a wonderful life if you can get away with it." The implication being that your father didn't get away with it. Right.

Do you feel like you got away with it? Through all those mistrials and the experiences you've had, do you feel like that you've gotten away with the life? No. I got slaughtered, Ben. I got slaughtered. The movie is based on a pre-agreement that my father always believed that you fight trials. You fight trials, you fight trials, you fight trials. That's it. You take the government to task. They're our enemy. Take them to task.

I was indicted twice in 1998. I beat one case in the bench, which was a judges decision. The second one I was going to fight and go to trial. It's the RICO case, a racketeering case. Instead, I decided to go against my father's wishes and plead guilty on the case. I forfeited $2.5 million, lost my house, lost my businesses. The agreement was for me to go back to prison for another seven and a half years, okay. But I was told and I was assured, as was my attorneys Gerry Shargel, Charlie Ogletree and Bruce Cutler, that this would be the end. We'd be done—we don't want John, John's not a threat to us, the father's gone for life. John Jr., meaning myself, is not a threat to us. We're going to leave him be.

Once I was in prison, they began subpoenaing me, moving me around, wiretapping the visiting rooms. Only two particular profilees, my father and I, under the guise of the Patriot Act, had their legal visits wiretapped, okay. My father was in 2001 and I was in 2003. We're the only two accused organized crime members to have that done. That means they were allowed to go into our legal visits, which is protected, and wiretapped those visits, okay. So while I was incarcerated after making this deal with the government, okay, they began to wiretap my social visits, visits between my wife and I and my children, friends of mine, as well as my attorneys.

Only weeks before I was scheduled to be released, and they were going to honor their agreement, they indicted me all over again and I was facing 110 years. That started everything moving forward that I wound up going to trial five times from stop to start in under 36 months. The last one they had me on death row. The last one I was death eligible and I won the motion in Florida. I was moved back to New York and I was successful in defending myself in the New York indictment.

But it does stand that you did survive. You were able to move on with your life outside of a prison, watch your kids grow up, get into new business ventures. That being said, to answer to your question, they completely and totally have taken me apart. They destroyed my businesses. My house was in foreclosure. My children's college funds I had to liquidate to pay for lawyers. I did everything I was supposed to do to fight the good fight. I believe I did fight the good fight. So honestly, I got away with nothing. They certainly got the better of me. They broke me down financially.

Mentally, I was never more tired in my life than through that last trial. The way they moved me around and the way they tortured me, I have 50% use of my left kidney as a result of their medical neglect, leaving a stone stuck in my kidney for several months while they gave me what's called diesel therapy. They would move me all around the country. I would arrive in one prison then four hours later they'd bang on my door and throw me in a bus and boat me across the country again. This went on for months and months and months. You're sleep deprived, you're sickly. I mean, I lost 37 pounds in the process. I was pissing blood all over myself for months. They left me in solitary confinement for long periods of time while this was going on. So got away with it? No. They got away with it. They certainly got away with it.

With my father, this is another question and answer, people say, "Well you're glorifying the mob in this movie. You're glorifying your father in the storytelling here." I say, "Absolutely not." My father spent his last 10 years of his life in solitary confinement alone. He ate thousands and thousands of meals all by himself, okay. When his end came, he was handcuffed to a bed and his death certificate said he choked on his own vomit and blood, okay. So I don't see any glory in that. I think quite the opposite.

A lot of people have compared Donald Trump and his governing style to that of a mobster. I was wondering if you felt that comparison holds any weight, and whether you are a Trump supporter or not, considering your general mistrust of the government. I'm pretty much apolitical to be honest with you. Believe it or not, I was a fan of Bill Clinton. I thought he had a lot of pizazz, a lot of character, very intelligent. One of the most intelligent individuals to sit in that seat. I mean, the guy's a Rhodes Scholar.

But that being said, I'm for the most part apolitical and I'll tell you why. My father always had a belief that at least he wasn't a hypocrite. He wouldn't ask you to do anything he didn't do himself, unlike these politicians that run our country. They'll start wars and send your sons and daughters to fight their wars. Whereas my father believed the life that he loved was good enough for him, it was good enough for his own son, okay. That's the way he viewed it. I sort of still today share some of those beliefs.

I share some of those beliefs that I believe most of the politicians who run this country are hypocrites. I mean, it's all a game, it's a show. It's a dog and pony show. There's lies on both sides of the fence. It depends on what country you're in. If you put on CNN News you see one perspective, and then you go to Fox News you're going to see a different perspective. Who's right? Who's wrong? I don't know.

Well, I disagree with you there. There are definitely some objective facts within that realm.

[The press person pointedly interrupted here to say, "Guys I'm afraid we're going to have to break it off here."]