(2006)3.5Cammila CollarAny devoted Tenacious D follower would probably expect the comedy rock band's feature film debut, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, to be the funniest and best movie ever made in the history of cinema. And that's fair. We expect greatness from those who've shown us greatness, and Jack Black and Kyle Gass have done just that in both their music and their HBO series, creating a devilish mix of clever satire, stoner humor, musical in-jokes, and awesome songs that could, by all accounts, succeed on their own if their lyrics weren't about mythical beasts and butt sex.
Fans of the D can't really be blamed for setting the bar a little high. Unfortunately, Black -- being a husband, father, and blossoming serious actor -- just didn't have time to make this movie a masterpiece, and he can't really be blamed for that either. So, unable to use Pick of Destiny as a chance to make comedic history, Black and partner Kyle Gass did the next best thing and made a love letter to their fans. As a result, Pick of Destiny gets most of its humor from self-referential jokes, making it basically unwatchable to those who aren't pre-existing devotees -- though that's clearly not who the guys made it for anyway.
The plot for the movie is still original, coming up with quality sequences that many a fan has probably fantasized about in the smoky aftermath of a D marathon. These ideas play off well, like showing JB praying to Ronnie James Dio as a child, and switching the dynamic in the band for a while so that KG becomes the asshole. The in-jokes are somewhat less reliable, and some are little more than rehashed bits from the TV series. These come off more as shout-outs than cop-outs, but they're still disappointing. Some references are added in clever and creative ways, though. the D's preoccupation with sasquatch, for instance, works its way into the script in a scenario where JB snacks on some mushrooms for sustenance and embarks on a psilocybin-fueled journey through the forest. This sequence is also a great illustration of how well the music from the D's corresponding album works in context. "Papagenu (He's My Sassafrass") (otherwise known as the "Sasquatch Is My Dad" song) is enjoyable as anarchic madness when it appears on the CD, but performed by JB, dressed as a miniature Yeti while he clings to the back of his full-sized father as they fly through a drug-induced Sid and Marty Krofft-style landscape -- it's just so much more.
It would have been nice if Pick of Destiny was a work of comedic innovation, showing mainstream America the genius that lovers of the band had been celebrating for years. What we got isn't half bad, though: two hours of Tenacious D doing what we love them for, wrapped up and presented with a card that -- in my fantasy -- reads: "Thanks for always being there for the D. Love, Rage Cage and Jables."
In this musical comedy-adventure starring self-proclaimed greatest band in the world Tenacious D, a pair of aspiring rock superstars attempt to convince the world of their true talents as they embark on a daring quest to acquire the supernaturally powered guitar pick that will finally allow them to fully realize their vast rock & roll potential. JB (Jack Black) is a naïve Midwesterner whose strict Christian parents view his burning passion for heavy metal as a mortal sin. After his dad tears down every poster in his bedroom except for a Ronnie James Dio poster on the back of the door, the former Black Sabbath frontman instructs the aspiring young rocker to seek out his fortune no matter what the cost. Subsequently setting his sights on Hollywood and hellbent to take the world of rock music by storm, JB sneaks out his bedroom window and makes his way to Venice Beach, where he soon meets guitar-strumming slacker KG (Kyle Gass). With a future of rock & roll superstardom now well within their reach, JB and KG harness the power of Satan to form hellfire hard rock duo Tenacious D and set out on a quest to achieve musical immortality by stealing the mythical guitar pick said to instill its owner with unprecedented musical prowess.