Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny - Review

 Since the beginning of time it twas written in the stones that a band will come. Well now they have come and now they’re here to come again in your ear pussies…

The Pick of Destiny was made in 2006 and stars those bad boys of mock rock, Tenacious D, a.k.a. Kyle Gass and Jack Black. It is a spin-off of the short lived HBO TV Series TENACIOUS D and tells the story of how these two rockers met and went on to form the most awesome band in the world, overcoming their own shortcomings and differences and battling for their very souls against the devil himself in the process.

The film opens up with a musical segment that is one of the greatest 5:00 min in the history of rock cinema! It shows a young Jack Black (called J.B. and Jables alternately throughout the film) at home in his town of Kickapoo, Missouri. He is part of an uber-religious family which is sitting down to a nice family dinner. JB, however, is not present. He is the black sheep of the family, and only wants to rock. He leaps into the room with acoustic guitar in hand and begins singing a profanity laden song about fighting dragons and telling the world to fuck off. His father, played by Meat Loaf, is none too pleased with this blasphemy. He drags JB off to his bedroom and gives him a thorough spanking with his belt, then launches into his own portion of the song about how the music and posters in JB’s room are filth and the devil wants his soul and is leading him astray. He tears all the posters off the walls of JB’s room and slams the door shut, telling him to praise to the lord in his home. However, he missed one poster – one that was on the back of the door featuring Ronnie James Dio sitting on a throne before a fiery background. JB prays to Dio for help – “I need a tight compadre who can teach me how to rock, my father thinks you’re evil man but he can suck a cock…” Dio actually comes to life and sings his own portion of the opening song, informing JB that he must make his way to Hollywood where he will form a strong alliance and the world’s most awesome band. JB grabs his guitar and runs away from home, looking for this mystical town of Hollywood…

The actor who plays young JB looks EXACTLY like Jack Black. He was perfect for the part, right down to the facial expressions he makes. Meat Loaf is also a bit of inspired casting, especially as he could sing his own part of the opening song. Ronnie James Dio is pure rock n’ roll nirvana and really works well in this, especially as Tenacious D has always channeled Dio pretty heavily in their music.

Unfortunately this opening segment is a hard act to follow. JB arrives in Hollywood and runs across Kyle Gass (who is also called KG and Kage alternately throughout the movie) playing a guitar for tips on the street. He is wowed by Kage’s musical prowess and seeks to train with him in the ways of rock. Kage wants nothing to do with him at first, but eventually takes him under his tutelage. We learn that this is actually a ploy to get JB to do his dirty work – cleaning around the house, running errands, buying drugs for him – and that Kyle is, actually, a fraud. He isn’t the big rock star he claimed to be and he is even, in fact, bald. But they pull together when they discover a secret – that they each have a strange birthmark on their butts – ass birthmark, as Kyle calls it. JB’s says TENAC and KG’s says IOUS D – they put their ass cheeks side by side and discover the name of their band – TENACIOUS D.

The rest of the movie follows KG and JB on the road in search of a powerful rock n roll relic, The Pick of Destiny. They learn from a salesman at a Guitar Center (Ben Stiller) that all the great musicians used this mystical pick – Zepplin, Sabbath, the Who. It is made from a fragment of Satan’s tooth carved into the shape of a pick. It grants the person using it amazing prowess on the guitar. They face many challenges but eventually make their way to a rock n roll museum where it’s being housed. They must get the pick and get to the big talent show and win the competition (so they can pay their rent with the winnings). But unbeknownst to them there are forces that also want the pick, leading to a climatic showdown with the devil himself (played by Dave Grohl).

The final 5 minutes or so of the movie are almost as good as the opening segment and make a nice bookend. The showdown between JB/Klye and the devil is really funny and Grohl is hilarious as Satan. There are a ton of cameos throughout the movie including Amy Poehler and Fred Armisen. The middle section of the movie really drags, unfortunately, and there is a drug trip segment with JB and Bigfoot that is really bad, just painful to get through. There are awkward interstitials between segments of this movie featuring tarot cards that almost work, but not quite.

Overall this movie is a lot of fun and fans of Tenacious D will especially enjoy it. Jack Black and Kyle Gass are really good musicians, and the Tenacious D songs are funny. It unfortunately didn't do too well at the box office, but found its place in the video market.


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