Once in a generation, the rock gods descend from their heaven and swing the mighty Scepter of Rock to crown a new king. Who could have guessed that the heir apparent to the throne would be a couple of dumpy, middle-aged white guys calling themselves Tenacious D?
Behold the rock duo of actors/musicians Jack Black and Kyle Gass and their rise to power in the outrageous comedy “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.”
Tenacious D first appeared in a short-lived HBO series, before Jack Black became wildly famous, about a couple of go-nowhere schlubs with delusions of grandeur who form a band that is able to rise no higher than open-mic-night at a local club.
Schooled in the audacity and pomposity of late ‘ the 70s/early ’80s hard rock, Tenacious D takes the stage with raucous songs about battles with demons, sexual conquest, and bodily functions, with clearly most of their experience involving the latter.
In their first feature-length film, which is one part musical, three parts rock opera, and five parts slapsticky ridiculousness, we learn the origins of Tenacious D and follow along on its quest for the titular guitar pick that was forged from the devil’s tooth and has given rockers throughout the ages the power to shred some tasty licks (meaning the power to “play guitar very well,” for all you mega-squares out there).
This is a very silly movie and certainly not for everyone. The humor is often crude and if heavy metal grates your nerves then the best advice I can give you is to stay away. But, if you are a child of the ’80s, like myself, who grew up cheering the on-stage antics of over-the-top artists like Ozzie Osbourne or David Lee Roth, you’ll discover that Tenacious D brings a satire/homage to the screen that borders on brilliance.
And what’s even more impressive is that they’re actually a really good band. Armed only with a couple of acoustic guitars and some of the best harmonizing this side of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, these boys have talent. Gass is a surprisingly accomplished guitarist for a bald guy pushing 300 pounds and Black’s bombastic pipes are powerful enough to match rock greats like Robert Plant or Roger Daltrey.
If you are a fan of Jack Black then this is a movie not to miss as his manic energy and wild facial expressions were made for rock ‘n roll. Black is in his element in Tenacious D and is a joy to watch.
The movie itself has some problems as it is a bit uneven under the hand of rookie director Liam Lynch and falls into the realm of standard-stoner comedy when various hijinks become the focus of the film. But when the movie sticks to the rock, it really rocks and soars beyond convention into the pure joy that comes from speed chords and power vocals.
The film is also peppered with some pretty nifty cameos, many of the musical variety including Meatloaf as Black’s puritanical father, metal legend Ronnie James Dio singing advice from inside a wall poster and Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl as rock’s greatest patron, the Devil.
Tenacious D has come to praise rock, not to bury it, and mocking something with love is a refreshing change to a lot of the mean-spirited unfunny comedy out there these days. It boils down to this: With Tenacious D, either you get it or you don’t. And you’ll find out where you stand pretty quickly because if you don’t find the first five minutes to be brilliantly hilarious, then you simply don’t get it. Don’t feel too badly; there are plenty of others like you and I’m sure Barry Manilow will be putting out a new album any day now.
As for the rest of you, bow down because you will soon acknowledge that Tenacious D reigns supreme!
“Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny” is rated R for language, drug use, sexual content, and extreme rocking.