|Tenacious D in 'The Pick of Destiny' (2006)
Starring: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Jason Reed
Director: Liam Lynch
Ah, the stoner comedy. Many movies have tried to capture the stoner brass ring, only to fall off the horse due to a complete lack of motor skills, realize they have the munchies, forget about the brass ring altogether, and head for the taco stand (“Half Baked,” I’m looking in your direction). What most filmmakers forget is that it takes a special brand of smarts in order to make a movie that’s dumb without actually being dumb, and also be really funny at the same time (“Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” take a bow). A slippery slope if ever there was one.
Now take “Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny,” the surefire Best Picture candidate of the “High Times” annual movie awards. If you’re a fan of the band, then you likely have a philosophy similar to the band’s own self-image, which is that this movie is going to be the Greatest Movie in the History of the World, simply because it is about Tenacious D. This could lead to a world of disappointment, should the movie not quite live up to expectations. Luckily, we don’t have that problem. New Line is the only studio that would have allowed Jack Black, Kyle Gass and director Liam Lynch (“Sifl & Olly,” holla!) to make the movie that they made, and that is to their endless credit. “The Pick of Destiny” is self-aware when it’s convenient to be that way, and blissfully unaware when it’s not. What else do you want from a movie about rock, drugs and being Satan’s bitch in hell?
The story begins with a young, rebellious, Missouri-born Jack Black (played by Troy Gentile, who also plays a young Jack Black in “Nacho Libre”) rocking out in a rather vulgar manner at the dinner table in front of his deeply religious parents. (There’s a great cameo here, along with a couple others, but we’ll leave it to other sites to spoil them for you.) After his father tells him that rock music is the devil’s music, Jack decides to run away to Hollywood (now played by Black), where he meets KG (Kyle Gass), whose guitar prowess blows Jack away. Eventually, the two team up in order to win a talent contest and avoid getting evicted, and in their quest to write the greatest song ever made, they discover that all of those great rock bands had one thing in common: a mythical guitar pick that brings greatness to those who possess it. But that pick carries a hefty price.
If any movie had the potential to crawl straight down its own rabbit hole, it’s this one, but thankfully that doesn’t happen. Granted, there are in-jokes galore that will go lost on some, but they serve more as bonuses for the wise than punishment for the unaware. Since Black and Gass themselves are caricatures, the story demands that they play themselves that way. The benefit to this is that no one can accuse them of overdoing it, because that was the point. The songs (all new ones?) were funny from a lyrical perspective, but aside from the big finale, nothing here is going to kick “Tribute” or “Wonderboy” out of your head.
Every bone in my body said releasing “Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny” at this time of year was a fatal mistake. This is family time, Oscar time and action time, not slacker time. But perhaps that is precisely what makes “The Pick of Destiny” the perfect movie for this time of year: it has no competition. Not that there could possibly be any competition for a movie about the greatest band in music history anyway, right?
Don’t let the box mislead you; there are scores of extras on this set. Along with a slew of deleted scenes (including a performance of “The Government Totally Sucks,” for you fans of the soundtrack), there are separate commentaries by the D and director Liam Lynch, an in-depth making-of featurette, and a handy jump-to-a-song bit for those who just want to rock. A must-own for any card-carrying member of the D Army.