Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny Movie Review
Comprised of dueling acoustic guitarists Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the D fills albums with harmonious and ridiculously clever odes to their own awesomeness. Their rock operas would make excellent B-sides for Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell album. Indeed, the band belongs on a triple bill with '70s monsters of melodic metal Black Sabbath and Queen.
A feature-length comedy about Tenacious D's origin has been in development for years -- Black was spilling plot details to me in 2003 during our interview for The School of Rock. Now that I've seen the finished piece, I have no idea what took them so long.
The Pick of Destiny script, credited to Black, Gass, and director Liam Lynch, appears to have been written on Taco Bell wrappers after late-night gordita runs. A stoner comedy, it imagines the leads as the next Cheech and Chong, mixing in a healthy dose of the Blues Brothers as the duo embarks on a musical mission from God (there's even a car-crunching police chase late in the film).
Before they can achieve their destiny, though, the musicians need to pay their rent. Since guitar virtuosity is their only commodity, the D enters a local battle of the bands and hunkers down to write the world's best song. When a guitar tech (Ben Stiller) clues them in to the existence of a legendary guitar pick carved from Satan's tooth, Black and Gass hit to road in search of the dark inspiration.
Without a legitimate story, Pick should take an instant stage dive, but the natural chemistry between J.B. and Kage keeps the film from stalling. They're an adorable couple, wedded in the church of unholy matrimony. And musically, the D can back up its boasts of supremacy. The film's best asset is the Pick soundtrack, a power-chord symphony backing up Black's stadium voice, which would test the rafters in vast amphitheaters.
But there isn't enough plot to fill 90 minutes (there's barely enough to fill nine), so Pick stages flabby filler sequences involving ditsy sorority girls, a rainbow-surfing Sasquatch (John C. Reilly), and a Russian vagabond (Tim Robbins) determined to steal the pick of destiny for himself. Sure, the movie's half-baked. But there's a very good chance the audience is, as well.
Consider yourself rocked.