Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny

Aside from being formulaic in plot, which I think you have to expect when approaching a movie like this, The Pick of Destiny is more offensive to fans of Tenacious D in that it makes little to no effort to come up with new jokes, and even the good jokes are executed in a more slapsticky fashion.

tenacious

(New Line, R) When I was 13 years old, I saw the initial installment of Tenacious D's HBO shorts for the first time, and they rocked my socks off (not literally). Each one running a little more than ten minutes, the episodes were full of absurdist hilarity, ridiculously memorable lines ("My guitar's on fire/ I'd been up all night shooting cheese balls/ That's cocaine and cheese."), and songs whose lyrics and unapologetic delivery offered a fresh take on sophomoric humor. Maybe it was my youth that made the line, "your butt-cheeks is warm,"-from D classic "Kielbasa"-so hilarious, but I still chuckle every time I hear it, with images of a chubbier Jack Black flapping his gut around unashamedly. Such was the unique style of Black and Kyle Gass' humor when they first burst onto the scene, turning their exposure to fans of Mr. Show into six episodes of cult classicism.

As Tenacious D's appeal began to permeate the frat circuit, the band's focus seemed to shift. The joke was no longer about a lame, unsightly acoustic duo, performing to under-whelming reception at the same open-mic night, with Black's misguided ego clogging in circles around Gass' hilariously pathetic straight man. Soon "The D" was solely about dick gags and the tired notion that they were "The Greatest Band in the World," the problem here being that this isn't funny when you have fans that don't think this is a self-referential joke.

Cut to the latest installment from the duo and sometime teammate, Liam Lynch, the feature film, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny. Understandably a long wait from Tenacious D's last public release (their overproduced debut album whose reliance on old songs should've been a well-gone-dry warning), The Pick of Destiny features Black as a naïve rocker from Kickapoo, Mo., who travels to California to chase his wayward metal dreams, along the way bumping into an unbelievably independent slacker in Gass. Unfortunately, hilarity does not ensue, and the band's journey to capture the supernatural, mythical pick is met with little opposition. However, this levity is not the result of any sort of compromise for the sake of it being a comedy. Not only are the characterizations a bit off from the band's original image, but they devolve into bland caricatures whenever any back story is introduced, turning a charming hopelessness into a self-serving opportunity to force an heroic mysticism about themselves.

Aside from being formulaic in plot, which I think you have to expect when approaching a movie like this, The Pick of Destiny is more offensive to fans of Tenacious D in that it makes little to no effort to come up with new jokes, and even the good jokes are executed in a more slapsticky fashion. While cameos and subtle winks to what made the HBO shorts so memorable are entirely welcome, Black and Co. resolve to form entire scenes around what could've been a minor, fan-pleasing reference (see the Sasquatch/trip scene and the painfully forced introduction of some predictable faces). Put it this way: If you thought anything about the fight scene in Anchorman was funny, aside from Steve Carell, this may be your kind of movie.

You: "Oh, look! Tim Robbins! I know him. He's funny. (?) Oh! And he's playing a character that's so different from his accomplished dramatic roles. This is funny in principle! They don't even need to try now…I'm placated."

Me: *Bonk

I truly believe that Tenacious D can still be funny. That is, if Black and Gass decide to devote a significant amount of time to writing jokes like you've never heard, forget about plot, and place everything in a ten-minute timeframe, then they can be funny. Otherwise, and The Pick of Destiny is a perfect example, everything you hear from Tenacious D will be an afterthought to Black's increasingly in-demand schedule, and therefore will simply be an opportunity to revive an old joke, bloated and stretched to appeal to mass audiences. As for the accompanying Tenacious D album/soundtrack to the movie, there is not a memorable song in the bunch, let alone a song that can stand up to their former efforts. Everything that the surprisingly talented duo know how to do well, in the way of self-parodying ambition, ferocity, and harmonies is glossed over by New Metal, cut-and-paste filler, perhaps in an effort to really ham up the rock opera aspect of the film.

If you've never seen or heard anything about Tenacious D, than The Pick of Destiny might work for you. However, if you've memorized the words to "Special Thing," attempted inward singing, or eaten an entire horse, get ready to force yourself to laugh and say, "I mean, it was okay…." On the whole, the fact that this movie was even made, and that it is being touted publicly as a cult-classic in the making (huh?), is indeed a cosmic shame. | Dave Jasmon

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply