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Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

on November 22, 2006 by Annlee Ellingson
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Five years since Tenacious D's eponymous debut album went platinum, the mock rock band has perhaps missed the zeitgeist in which to successfully release a biopic on the origins of the self-proclaimed Greatest Band on Earth. Indeed, with the exception of a few select tracks — their hit single “POD,” “Dude (I Totally Miss You)” and “The Government Totally Sucks,” which doesn't make an appearance in the movie — the D's follow-up CD is mostly unlistenable without having seen the film. What is on display, though, throughout the soundtrack is the band's versatility, ranging from classic Bach to folk rock to heavy metal.

Not helping matters is an ad campaign that fails to convey that the film is more than a string of comedy sketches and actually does have a narrative, albeit a tenuous one: Repressed by his conservative religious parents, Lil' JB (the spot-on Troy Gentile, who also played a junior Jack Black in Nacho Libre ) summons metalhead Dio from a poster on the back of his bedroom door. The rock-and-roll icon instructs the aspiring rocker to escape the confines of Kickapoo, Mo., and head to Hollywood. This pre-credits sequence is the most compelling of the film, with Meat Loaf co-starring as JB's dad in his first singing role since The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Unfortunately, the promise of the flick's rock-opera beginnings are soon disappointed.

When JB (Black) arrives in Venice, Calif., he stumbles upon KG (Kyle Gass) strumming guitar on the boardwalk. The would-be lead singer finagles himself into KG's act, and soon the pair is sharing a shabby apartment and training for live performances. In a bid to earn money to pay the rent, the pair enters open-mic night at Al's Bar (the real debut venue for the D). But, in order to win, they must write a killer song, and, in order to do that, they must acquire the fabled Pick of Destiny, on display in the Rock and Roll History Museum in, uh, Sacramento.

What follows is a road-trip adventure pitched as an epic quest, loosely stringing together musical set pieces (most bizarre is a completely tangential neon-colored fantasy sequence involving mushrooms and Sasquatch) and marquee-name cameos. Given full rein in costume, makeup and character, these appearances are the highlight of the film. Unfortunately, the rest the humor, while in tune with what makes the band's first CD and live shows so delightful, needs to be tightened and polished for the big screen.

Presumably, Tenacious D was determined to provide fans with all-new musical material for the film and soundtrack — after a half-decade, they deserve it. The downside to this strategy, though, is the glaring omission of their first and most popular song, “Tribute,” from a plot in which it would have fit so perfectly. Distributor: New Line
Cast: Jack Black and Kyle Gass
Director: Liam Lynch
Screenwriters: Jack Black & Kyle Gass & Liam Lynch
Producers: Stuart Cornfeld, Jack Black and Kyle Gass
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R for pervasive language, sexual content and drug use
Running time: 97 min.
Release date: November 22, 2006

Tags: Jack Black and Kyle Gass Director: Liam Lynch Screenwriters: Jack Black & Kyle Gass & Liam Lynch, Producers, Stuart Cornfeld, Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Comedy
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