Review: ‘Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny’

If you have to ask what kind of push-ups members of the band Tenacious D require, this isn’t the movie for you. If you have to ask how many to do, pull the sheets over your head, too, and plug your ears.

Leaving his oppressive, non-rocking home behind to learn the secrets of rock and roll, a young man with only his guitar and his dreams arrives years later in Venice Beach. The boy has become a man known as JB (Jack Black), and with local slacker KG (Kyle Gass), the lost brothers form “Tenacious D,” the greatest rock band the world has ever known. But there’s no time for paying dues when you can’t pay the rent, and while searching for clues to instant rock and roll success, Tenacious D stumbles upon a dark metal secret: The Pick of Destiny.

Anyone who “gets” and loves Tenacious D understands the truth: Jack Black and Kyle Gass are deeply in love with the very thing they make so much fun of and, as musicians themselves, they ain’t half bad, either. If the hyper-kinetic Black could be harnessed as a power source, he could probably power a Third-World nation just thinking up his next gig, while Gass is just enough of a foil to keep Black in check and getting too full of himself. As a band, as actors, and as entertainers, Tenacious D is pure fun, assuming you don’t have a soft ear for repeated foul language or cringe too much deciding what “gargling mayonnaise” is a reference to.

But the real question is, does their movie rock? I’d heard the entire soundtrack beforehand and saw a few performances on late late night shows, and the songs seemed (for lack of a better word) incomplete. Could I be the only one thinking, “Well, if the music isn’t up to their usual stuff, how good could the film be?” In truth, there was nothing to worry about. The music works perfectly, and when re-listening to it afterwards, the film happily replays itself in the imagination.

Fans of Tenacious D will quickly see the film for what it is: a box-office fluke (should it make any actual money) followed by an instant cult classic when it hits DVD. Ideally, the real audience for this film will have a lot more fun in the privacy of their own homes than what legally can be done in theaters. For anyone looking to shake the hand of the executive producer with the vision to actually green-light this project, look no further than Ben Stiller (with a requisite “thank you” cameo, as well). And all your D-fan favorites are back, including Lee, Sasquatch, and David Grohl as The Devil himself.

And speaking of which, someone did their homework when conjuring up The Pick of Destiny. How many Tenacious D fans know who Robert Johnson was and what he gave up for his music at “The Crossroads” (located at the intersection of Highway 61 and 49, according to New Orleans officials)? Go look it up; we’ll wait. But if you’re a fan of the ‘D’, you owe it to JB and KG to get your friends together and buy out the nearest showing while The Pick of Destiny is still in theaters, because even if the DVD were in stores tomorrow, it still wouldn’t be soon enough to own a piece of the world’s greatest rock band’s movie debut.

(a three and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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