Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (United States, 2006)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Few movies are easier to review or define a recommendation. If you're a die-hard fan of either Jack Black or the band he formed with Kyle Gass, you'll likely love every moment of Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny. For anyone else, the better choice would be to buy the soundtrack (if you like the music) and skip the movie. This is one of those musicals that provides moderate entertainment when the actors are singing or playing guitar, but devolves into a spiral of tediousness during the increasingly lengthy gaps between numbers. The comedy is juvenile and often unfunny. There are some laugh-aloud moments, but not nearly enough. In the end, you have to possess a sweet spot for Black and his antics to find Tenacious D more than barely watchable.

The movie is a fictionalized account of how the real band Tenacious D was formed. It uses a comic-book style approach, with both JB (Jack Black) and KG (Kyle Glass) coming across as larger-than-life characters. They meet on the streets of Hollywood, become mentor-and-pupil (with Black as the latter) in a relationship that intentionally recalls Yoda and Luke. Eventually, they agree to play together, but to elevate themselves above all the other wannabe rockers, they embark upon a quest for "the pick of destiny," a guitar pick fashioned out of the devil's tooth. It resides in the Rock 'n Roll History Museum; they must break in and steal it.

The musical sequences offer a certain level of appeal, and the movie gets off to a quick start because it's front-loaded with them. Unfortunately, after that, things stabilize to where Tenacious D resembles a typical Jack Black comedy. For those who break out in laughter merely looking at Black, this movie will scratch an itch. Those expecting him to do something funny will have to judge whether his antics fail or succeed. Most of Tenacious D's comedy seems aimed at teenagers (jokes about farts and erect penises being primary components).

The music makes Tenacious D bearable, although it's not top notch rock. The lyrics have their subversive and amusing moments, which is more than what can be said about the film in general. Directed by Liam Lynch, Tenacious D represents a series of peaks and valleys, but there are too many of the latter and they last too long. The climax is suitably-over-the-top and oddly reminiscent of the 1979 tune by The Charlie Daniels Band, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." It's a comic book ending to a comic book movie (albeit not a very good one). My advice: set aside the money you would have spent on a ticket toward buying the soundtrack. That way, you can get all that's moderately good about Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny without having to endure the substantial bad.

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (United States, 2006)

Director: Liam Lynch
Cast: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Jason Reed, Tim Robbins
Screenplay: Jack Black & Kyle Gass & Liam Lynch
Cinematography: Robert Brinkmann
Music: Andrew Gross, John King
U.S. Distributor: New Line Cinema
Run Time: 1:30
U.S. Release Date: 2006-11-22
MPAA Rating: "R" (Profanity, Drugs, Sexual Situations)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1