Review: Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

Finding his father (Meat Loaf) is unable to understand his rockin' ways, Jack Black (a perfect specimen of dirtball majesty) runs away from his Midwestern home for the good life in Hollywood. There he meets Kyle Gass, a beach bum with genius guitar licks. At first reluctant to join forces, Kyle and Jack find the only way to blow minds is to form the greatest band in the world: Tenacious D. However, in order to rock hard, they need the dangerous and mysterious Pick of Destiny. Embarking on a fantastical cross-country journey to steal the pick, Kyle and Jack end up with cops, a crazy old man (Tim Robbins), and Satan himself on their tail.

Tenacious D has been a strange concept since its debut back in 1996. Basically an updated version of Abbot and Costello, only now with bong smoke and heavy metal pumping through the duo's veins, The D undercut their goofy leanings with their genuine musical skill. Their 2001 debut album is honestly one of the finest rock albums I've heard in the last 20 years, priming them for their feature film debut.

Fans of The D will not be disappointed by this borderline psychotic romp through the sunflower fields of rock supremacy. Director Liam Lynch has been on The D's creative team for years now and he puts Black and Gass through a kaleidoscopic journey of rock, animation, car chases, tarot card fantasylands, giggles, and ... well, more rock. "Pick of Destiny" is an instant midnight movie staple, and it earns its cult status not through irony or hipster pandering, but through legitimately exhilarating filmmaking that brings out the best not only The D's comic timing, but in their musicianship, hurling on the unsuspecting public another album's worth of tracks worthy of The D canon.

While "Pick of Destiny" (IMDb listing) surely has a high-wire feature film quality to it, the essentials of the picture basically belong to Tenacious D's old HBO show. The screenplay has tremendous stoner fun telling the origin story of the band, and how Gass took wild advantage of the very green Black, but the majority of the initial interplay has the slow burn joke pattern of the television show. "Pick of Destiny" is head-slappingly hilarious, but it doesn't exactly peel out like one might expect it to.

Once the action crosses over to the quest for the pick, the film takes off like a jet, punishing Black and Gass in a series of slapstick sequences that will appeal to any comedy fan, but some segments, in particular, hold great delight for D fanatics. I'll just say that all those cock pushups Black has been working diligently on for years finally pay off. There's also a riotous, psychedelic exchange between a hallucinating Black and his old pal Sasquatch, who takes the dreaming singer on a ride through the rainbow clouds and down the strawberry river. "Pick of Destiny" doesn't hide the hint that perhaps a more altered state of mind is in order to soak up the lunacy, but the audio and visual carnival presented here can easily be enjoyed by everyone.

The real jewels of the film bookend the story; two pieces of thrilling rock opera open and close "Pick of Destiny" on a barnstorming note of epic musical storytelling that nobody does better than The D. Lynch warmed up to this freestyle method of alternative cinema with last year's sublime "Jesus is Magic," but here with a much larger budget, the creative juices splatter on the screen. At first, we witness a frustrated Jack Black trading verses with Meat Loaf and the all-powerful Ronnie James Dio, but the rocket sauce is saved for the finale, where Black and Gass do battle with none other than Satan (Dave Grohl) for the bragging rights to Gass' anal virginity.

"The Pick of Destiny" is a Gravitron ride of nard-crunching brilliance and explosivo satisfaction, and it's been a long time coming for Tenacious D. Finally they get their opportunity for big screen domination, and wouldn't you know it, they reign supreme there too.

Filmfodder Grade: A

I agree this movie rocks! I was actually very impressed that they were able to find a little kid that had the exact facial expressions of JB. Too funny.

Riding dowm the Strawberry River was pretty funny too.

-- Posted by: wendy at November 29, 2006 9:54 AM

I really wanted them to play Tribute at the end though...

-- Posted by: wendy at November 29, 2006 9:55 AM