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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.73%
Pretty Bad: 13.64%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Not Even Worthy Of The B-Side"
2 stars

Like The Monkees and Spinal Tap before it, Tenacious D has earned a place in the more recent cult history of a fictional band played primarily for laughs and turning out some memorable tunes in the process. It holds true that the only way to kill the one you love is to become it and the creation of Jack Black and Kyle Gass is a spectacular amalgam of struggling rock bands and the arrogance needed to embrace the lifestyle and pursue the ultimate sound. The problem with their first exploits on film is that, like the band, they have very few ideas and wind up lacking the inspiration necessary to set it apart from the masters who have come before it.

As if a metaphor for the second and third acts of the film, things get off to a rockin’ start with the history of J.B. played out in loud and vulgar fashion by young Mason Knight doing a dead-on version of Black’s hyperactive musical stylings. The pre-credit sequence, aided by Meat Loaf (as his dad) and Ronnie James Dio (as his inspiration) suggests that the “D” and director Liam Lynch have thrown caution to the wind and are setting us up for a balls-out musical experience that never stops. An out-there tribute to A Clockwork Orange of all things also prepares us for a bizarro world in-between the music numbers, but the anti-Moulin Rouge is short-lived.

Struggling through a rock n’ roll attitude in a strictly Catholic household, J.B. (Jack Black) takes off in search of Hollywood (one of the film’s brighter gags) and winds up impressed with the stylings of K.G. (Kyle Gass) on the Santa Monica boardwalk. No one understands his genius like J.B. despite it being little more than classic covers for change. K.G. agrees to take J.B. under his training in a weird role reversal since fans have come to know Black as the band’s aggressor, not follower. Soon enough the gears finally switch as K.G. is exposed as a fraud and the pair agree to team up after their combined buttocks name the band for them.

After trying their stylings at an open mic night where anything resembling music could have won, the host (Paul F. Tompkins) advises them to come up with new material for the finals. With nothing coming immediately to mind, K.G. notices a similarity in the photos of rock’s most legendary guitarists. They are all using the same pick. Seeking it out they are told by a guitar store clerk (in a cameo we should come to expect by now) of the pick’s origin as the severed tooth of Satan himself. Now residing in the Rock N’ Roll History Museum, the duo make the trek, break up along the way and meet another cameoing star who points them in the right direction but has been craving to retrieve it himself.

If it all feels very generic to you, then you’ve entered my shoes. Nothing can be taken out of The Pick of Destiny that you couldn’t have got in the stream of consciousness from the albums themselves which like many of the best received concept records in history frame their music through a story. Bottom line is that you couldn’t put the 85 minutes of this film onto an LP or CD and listen to it straight through. You’d be skipping around trying to find the best song and in their case, the verbal bridges which depict their fractured relationship or reveal one of their bright ideas. The parody of band mate in-fighting, frequently ending with Kyle quitting the band over and over again, was always good for a laugh. It may have gotten a little monotonous on film, but its one of the many areas not exploited for easy laughs. Replaced instead by at least four scenes of drug humor (so simplistic and unfunny), the film never reaches to become any brand of music satire which I always thought was the whole point of the partnership to begin with.

Director Liam Lynch, who previously handled duties on the Sarah Silverman concert film, Jesus Is Magic, brings to the Pick of Destiny the same visual blandness to the less successful moments of that film, which also involved music parodies. Unless the core of Tenacious D’s fans are just stoners giddy when the word “fuck” appears on a lyric, they should be seriously disappointed with how ill-executed such a simple idea like “cock push-ups” is. It’s supposed to setup the film’s most gargantuan payoff, but serves only to remind how the subtlety of the original punchline on the album worked so well. Even “the greatest and best song in the world” Tribute, is given a half-hearted shout-out towards the end that has us asking why nobody hit upon the bright idea to just go the Alan Parker route and film the album.

Clearly, Jack Black has an admiration for all that rock represents and the historical implications of the glory days versus the commercialism that usurped it. Think Lester Bangs by way of Sam Kinison. Did he forget all that he taught in School of Rock? Imagine all the fun they could have fun with commentary on Destiny’s Pick changing hands over the years, with the decline of bands and one-hit wonders. Wayne’s World got more musician cameos for God’s sake while here they blow their aging rocker budget in the first 5 minutes but extend their fart jokes past the end credits. C’mon guys you’re better than this. Way better. For the amount of years it took to bring their cultish misadventures to the big screen, someone must have had a B-side script cause that would have been a letter up.

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originally posted: 11/22/06 16:00:46
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2006 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/31/10 James Pretty dumb, but funny. KG and JB are actually pretty good at making comedic rock. 4 stars
1/11/08 NoOLINp This leaves out a main character, Ben Stiller. 5 stars
11/13/07 DrejGG they are the greatest band in the word!! and the film is fucking AWESOME 5 stars
3/03/07 AJ Muller Will melt the faces of true D fans and should make some new ones; your mind will be blown. 5 stars
2/05/07 William Goss Screwy, scattershot, but crass fun for the willing. 4 stars
12/12/06 Tiffany This was a dumb movie. Jack black is crazy 3 stars
12/11/06 Carra F'n AWESOME 5 stars
12/04/06 Nicole Fucking Awesome! Their Greatness is off the charts! 5 stars
12/02/06 shagtex Black is back and does it again 4 stars
12/02/06 Ryan Smoke a bowl, and lay back and enjoy, pure brilliance 5 stars
11/27/06 sirina stupid movie but funny at times 3 stars
11/27/06 Tyrantis Awesome for Rock & Roll and/or Tenacious D fans. For others... meh. 4 stars
11/27/06 Cal Awesome! 5 stars
11/24/06 masterblaster greatest fucking movie ever made!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -period. 5 stars
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  22-Nov-2006 (R)
  DVD: 27-Feb-2007



Directed by
  Liam Lynch

Written by
  Jack Black
  Kyle Gass

  Jack Black
  Kyle Gass
  Jason Reed
  Meat Loaf
  Ronnie James Dio

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