November 23, 2006

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Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (R)
Jack Black and Kyle Gass tell the epic story of the creation of the World's Greatest Band in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, an extended remix version of a Tenacious D video.

Which one? Ah, any one of them — all the Tenacious D songs are essentially about the same thing: rockin' and how hard they're rockin'. In this movie JB (Jack Black) defies the strict upbringing of his family (including his ultra-strict, anti-rock Dad, played by Meat Loaf) and sets off on a journey to learn the ways of rock. He eventually winds up in Hollywood, where he meets KG (Kyle Gass), who tells him that he is a great rocker and he will teach him the rocker ways. Quickly, JB figures out that Kyle is just a pothead loser who exists solely on the checks sent to him by his parents. When they turn off the money faucet, Kyle thinks he'll have to move back home. But JB devises a plan wherein they will win money at an open-mike competition to pay the rent.

But how? After their opening round, the open-mike host tells them they're OK but nothing special. How do they get better? Well, clearly, practice and determination aren't going to do it (there's the pot smoking and all). So they decide instead to seek out the pick of destiny, a special guitar pick that all of the world's very best rockers have used. According to a record store employee (Ben Stiller), the pick is actually fashioned from the tooth of Satan and imbues the player with magical rockin' powers. He tells the pair that the pick is being kept at the Rock and Roll Museum (or whatever not-Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame they use) and off they go on their rock-accompanied quest.

The joke of Tenacious D is for all that they love the hard rock and early metal of the late 1970s and 1980s, they have only 30 percent of the actual rock ability but a solid 150 percent of the rock pretension. Knights-of-old symbolism, eyeliner-heavy costumes, the power slide (the across-the-stage-on-your-knees move that punctuates a really good guitar solo) — these, more than, say, lyrics or musical proficiency, are where Tenacious D puts its focus, generally to wonderful effect. The pomposity of rock stars begs for this kind of send-up and the deadly seriousness of Tenacious D works perfectly with the absurdity of their shtick.

You know, for a while.

I'd say 25 minutes of Tenacious D and their quest would have been just about perfect. If ever a movie cried out for some kind of Internet-distribution, pay-to-play, buy-the-special-edition-DVD-with-extra-scenes treatment, this is it. Extreme fans of Tenacious D will likely enjoy an hour of this movie and spend the other 30 minutes looking for munchies. Occasional fans will like this movie best in DVD form, when the story part of the film can be easily fast forwarded through. Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny is not a bad movie — it's a very funny short surrounded by a lot of unnecessary fluff to justify a theatrical release. C+

Rated R for pervasive language (including some pretty elastic variations of the F-word set to song), sexual content (don't worry, you don't actually see Jack Black or Kyle Gass having sex) and an enormous amount of pot use. Directed by Liam Lynch and written by Jack Black, Kyle Gass and Liam Lynch, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny is about an hour and a half long and will be distributed in wide release on Nov. 22 by New Line Cinema.

— Amy Diaz