Blood on the Cutting Room Floor

On the Gutting The Sacred Cow podcast movies aren’t reviewed, they are torn apart and left for dead in hilarious fashion.

When it comes to movies, there are a select group of pictures that fall under the category of “bulletproof”. These are those films that you can ask any stranger about and they will be hard pressed to find anything wrong with them.

Some of these movies are obvious: “The Godfather” and “The Godfather, Part II”. “Star Wars”. “Pulp Fiction.” “Jaws”. “Ghostbusters.” “Die Hard”.

Well, maybe not “Die Hard”. At least not in the opinion of comedian Don Jamieson, known to many for his long-time stint as a host on the late VH1 Classic program “That Metal Show”.

“It’s a complete travesty from beginning to end,” Jamieson recently said as he lambasted the 1988 movie that made Bruce Willis a star. “The acting is ridiculous. Every premise is a cliché. (Bruce Willis) is a bartender who got a lucky break. He’s a poor man’s Tom Cruise without the Scientology.”

It takes some serious stones to eviscerate “Die Hard”, a movie that for millions is considered to be a classic of the action film genre. But, public condemnations of such celluloid giants is welcome, and demanded of comedians Kevin Gootee and Kevin Israel, the hosts of Gutting The Sacred Cow (GTSC), a weekly podcast that takes a corkscrew to the standard movie review programs that often include talking heads debating a film’s cultural significance, or fanboys arguing over topics like which movie superhero has the best superpowers.

For a movie to get the GTSC treatment, like “Die Hard” did with Jamieson, it can’t be generally thought of as a bad film. At least not in the traditional sense.

“The movie choice is totally up to the guest,” Gootee said in a Zoom interview from his home in New Jersey. “But, it has to be a film that is either widely beloved, critically acclaimed, or a financial success.”

Among the sacred cows that Gootee, Israel and their guests have gutted: “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Inglorious Basterds”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Footloose,” which actor Sean Kanan recently broke the legs of as he ripped apart a certain aspect of Kevin Bacon’s character in the film.

“This whole thing with Kevin Bacon being like a gymnast. That kind of seemed shoehorned in there. And then you’re in like Podunk, U.S.A. and they’ve got a gymnastics team? That just seems a little weird,” Kanan said incredulously. “To build upon THAT, where’s he doing his “I’m an angry dude” dance? Because that’s what every pre-pubescent boy does when they get angry; they dance like Billy Eliot. And so, there’s like a gymnastics bar in that thing. So, I just thought a lot of it was pretty damn improbable.”

Gootee said the concept to tear apart great or popular films came from being frustrated with the sameness of so many movie review programs.

“Everyone has a podcast now,” Gootee said. “But it’s the same shit and same arguments with so many of them. It doesn’t take skill to dunk on the shittier films. But, you get a movie like “2001”, which many people want to think is good—but it really blows—and the guest tears it apart? That’s when the skill really comes in.”

When they aren’t hosting their podcast and tearing apart some of the most-popular movies of recent years, the New Jersey natives hold down regular day jobs. Israel is a lawyer working in crisis communications, who has also been doing standup comedy for 20 years, and has released a comedy record, “The Struggle Israel.” Gootee works in medical sales, he says, “until I can make enough from this podcast.”

Gootee, Israel and their guests have been gutting sacred cows on a weekly basis for about one-and-a-half years. Movie gutters often come from meetups on social media, friends and connections in the comedy industry.

Each GTSC episode follows a similar format, starting with the playing of the show’s theme song. Gootee then breaks out a quote and challenges Israel to guess what movie it’s from. The guest is introduced, followed by features such as five “fun” facts about the film, any memorable quotes from the movie, and then a look at the movie’s ratings and scores on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. The guest gives their argument for why the movie should be gutted, Gootee and Israel deliver their takes on the film, and the hosts and guest crack wise over reviews from critics, and those of viewers that are posted on Amazon. Everyone gives a score on a scale of 1 to 10, and the hosts decide if the guest has effectively gutted the sacred cow.

“You become so hyper analytical that often the movie just starts to fall apart in front of you,” Israel said. “The movie does the job itself.”

Listening to one episode of GTSC will make one thing perfectly clear: This is not one of your old-school Siskel and Ebert-style programs where reviewers will keep their language diplomatic even when they dislike a movie. A swear jar could be filled with quarters by the time one of the show’s typically hour-long episodes is over. Another feature that guests get into is expressing how much they can’t stand unrealistic, or outright fake story points that are often the scourge of Hollywood films aiming for the lowest common public denominator.

“It’s not that we’re overanalyzing suspending disbelief,” Gootee said. “But, what sucks is when something that happens in a movie that doesn’t happen in real life. Somebody runs through an airport to express their love for someone, or they get in a car, look for the keys, and then the keys drop down from the visor. That doesn’t happen!”

But, the constant f-bombs, other curse words and disbelief over what many so-called great movies get away with only serve the guests’ opinions in ridiculously funny ways:

“This movie is a movie where everybody sucks. They’re all just shitty, horrible people who sit around and brood and whine and complain,” said author and essayist Juliette Miranda in her skewering of John Hughes’ 1980s teen classic “Pretty In Pink.”

“You didn’t have to go and spend millions of dollars to make a movie that’s complete and utter bullshit,” said “F Is For Family” co-creator Mike Price about “Argo”, the 2012 Best Picture Oscar winner. “It may be the fact for me that it won the Best Picture, and it is so false is what makes me not like it as much as if it had just come out and, whatever. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so mad about it.”

And then there is comedian Dave Landau, whose carpet bombing of “Good Will Hunting” was so complete in its totality that it buried the Academy Award winner below the level of the lowest-quality Roger Corman B-movie.

—“The shot of him (Matt Damon’s Will Hunting) staring up at the ceiling gave me hope that he would hang himself. But then it cuts to him walking into an office and getting an amazing job, which he blows off for an oh-so-reliable, not at all shaky prospect of a quirky woman in her 20s…It doesn’t matter because his car isn’t going to make it past Hartford. It’s just gonna break down and he’ll be out of another job.”

—“The park bench scene, where he just sits there and listens to Robin Williams just because…I love that they decided (being) a widower wasn’t sympathetic enough and they had to shoehorn in he watched his buddy die (in Vietnam). It’s just rammed in there and never brought up again.”

—“Ben Affleck: There’s no way this meathead has this great moment of clarity where he’s all empathetic towards Matt Damon. It completely breaks his character for the entire movie. When he’s like, “Yeah, you just gotta go follow that because I love you.” It’s just a bullshit hacky scene pulled from every other movie.”

Israel said that those are the kind of reviews that make GTSC live up to the goals of its hosts.

“The best episodes are when you can taste the vitriol,” Israel said. “You can cut the hatred with a knife.”

That vitriol can have an impact on the GTSC hosts, too, and how they feel about movies they have liked.

“This podcast has ruined more movies for me,” Israel said. “You can have a movie you thought was good, but when you revisit it, you’ll find that it just doesn’t hold up,” Israel said. “‘Face/Off’ was like that. I’d still probably watch it if it was on TV, but it has agreed terribly.”

Gootee added, “The best compliment a guest can get is if they get me to drop my score.”

Where To Listen and Watch:

New episodes of Gutting The Sacred Cow can be heard weekly on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio and several other podcast services.

The show also can be watched, and subscribed to, via the Gutting The Sacred Cow YouTube channel.

On Twitter…Gutting The Sacred Cow can be followed @GTSCpodcast, Kevin Gootee can be found @KevinGootee, and Kevin Israel can be followed @kevinisrael_nj.

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