Posted by: Richard Frost | 11 Apr 2020

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny film review

Logo for UK news website In The NewsOriginal publication date: December 2006
Outlet: In The News

In a nutshell…
A spoof rockumentary about the self-professed greatest band in the world.

What’s it all about?
Good question. Allegedly, it’s a film about the rise of the rock band Tenacious D to world domination (their words, not mine). However, anyone familiar with either the music of ‘the D’ or the film exploits of hyperactive funny-man Jack Black won’t be surprised to find that all is not as it seems.

So, we start with Black’s misery as he grows up in Kickapoo, Missouri (he actually grew up in California). Then he embarks on a rock pilgrimage to Hollywoods across the US to find future bandmate Kyle Gass (he didn’t). But they now need a band name so put their heads together (or, more precisely, backsides), and realise that their birthmarks spell the name Tenacious D (they don’t).

And finally, they hit upon the idea that the only way they can write a killer song is to steal a supernatural guitar pick fashioned from the tooth of Satan himself (and if you’re still unsure about the film’s truthfulness at this point, I suggest you seek help…).

Who’s in it?
Tenacious D are a real-life spoof rock band, powered by the considerable comic talents of Black and Gass. The latter tends to play minor loafer parts on the big screen, suffering as he does from baldness and an unfeasibly large beer gut. The former, meanwhile, is the more photogenic of the pair, and has successfully pulled off leading roles in The School of Rock, King Kong and new romantic comedy The Holiday.

Honourable mention must also go to a string of top-notch celebrity guest appearances. Meatloaf plays a tyrannical father who doesn’t understand the rock, Black Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio is one poster boy who does, Ben Stiller hams it up as a hairy muso with a devilish secret, and former Nirvana sticksman Dave Grohl makes for a rip-roaring Beelzebub.

As an example…
Black (spreading out an array of magazines fronted by rock legends): “What makes them so good? What do they have that we don’t?”

Gass: “Well, they all have the same guitar pick…”

Promotional poster for the movie Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny

Likelihood of a trip to the Oscars
Not great, unless the judges harbour an unlikely soft spot for puerile jokes. But ever since Ben Hur trounced Some Like it Hot with 11 Academy Awards in 1960, it seems light-hearted musical comedies haven’t sat well with the men that count.

Having said that, the original motion picture soundtrack is a thing of genius (it’s currently on sale as the band’s second album) and should indisputably be nominated. Humour permitting…

What the others say…
“Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny is shambolic nonsense and dumber than a bag of snakes, but it is funny and the songs rock” (pixelsurgeon)

“There’s enough anguished gurning here to fill a yearly subscription to Kerrang” (BBC)

So is it any good?
The film is a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest. Is it funny? Yes. Is it consistently funny? No. Is it as funny as the band’s first LP? Nowhere near.

And maybe that’s one of the film’s main problems. You see, Tenacious D’s eponymous debut album has already done all the ‘greatest band in the world’ jokes. And generally it’s done them a whole lot better. In fact, many of the same ideas are rehashed on screen – “cock push-ups”, Satan appearing unexpectedly, a love of oversized bongs, etc.

Another negative is that the film moves pretty sluggishly in the first half. Bearing in mind the finale sees ‘the D’ swap guitar licks with Satan himself, it’s clear that their passion is for outrageous flamboyance. So why spend the first half of the movie in Gass’ drab apartment?

All the best moments are the daft sketches where Tenacious D’s imagination explodes. The hatred of rock being preached by Meatloaf, the surreal magic mushroom sequence with added sasquatches, and the satanic history of the guitar pick are just three of the highlights. And unsurprisingly, the musical score will have you in stitches.

In patches then, this film is hilarious…but only in patches.

7/10


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