November 26, 2006

Movie Review: Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

I am not what you would call an avid follower of The D, but I do enjoy the hell out of the Tenacious D CD and the passion with which they bring the worlds of metal and comedy together. Jack Black is absolutely hilarious, and with Kyle Gass at his side the laughs only increase. This is their big screen debut as a team, and the results are rather satisfying.

The Pick of Destiny is a film that is definitely targeted at the fans of the pair, and many among the uninitiated will probably miss out on a lot of the movie. It plays like the melding of fact and fiction, telling the origin of Tenacious D and their journey towards becoming the greatest band in the world.

The highlight is definitely the music. The emotion and sincerity combined with the energy is downright infectious. Black, complete with his parody of metal-god swagger, leads the pair with his maniacal presence and his soaring metal voice. I swear, if he wasn't in comedy, he would be fronting a first rate metal act. At Black's side is Kyle Gass, supplying the metal riffs and solos, while also playing th quiet straight man to Black's in your face comedy.

We start with a pre-title sequence in which a young JB (the perfectly cast Troy Gentile) rebelling against his by the book Christian father, played by Meat Loaf (I knew I recognized that voice). He has a vision of real life metal god Ronnie James Dio who urges him to travel to Hollywood to find fame. So youyng JB grabs his axe, jumps out the window and sets off for the land of Fallen Angels.

Following the opening credits the story picks up in Hollywood. JB, now in the body of Jack Black, meets KG playing classical music on a guitar on the sidewalk. The meeting shows the potential they have, but it takes an attack by some A Clockwork Orange extras to bring them together in a Kung Fu-like relationship.

Soon enough, the two are looking to realize their band dreams, but need to find one more thing first, the Pick of Destiny. This journey is kicked off with the telling of a history worthy of The DaVinci Code. The journey brings them into contact with some strange characters, college girls, and Satan himself.

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny does not have a very good pace, the humor is sporadic and it does drag a tad between musical numbers. It is more like a series of skits strung together in roughly the correct order giving the illusion of a movie. Everything is held together by the crazy amounts of charisma possessed by Black. He is a force to be reckoned with and commands attention when he is on the screen. It may not be high brow, or even terribly intelligent comedy, but he makes it work.

Anytime they are singing, the movie soars, while anytime there is no music the results are bit more of a mixed bag. I found myself infected by the movie, laughing and smiling often, even during those times I was impatiently waiting for the next musical number. The best elements are the opening number and the rock off with Satan near the end. Both of those will go down among the best musical numbers I have witnessed on the big screen.

Bottomline. A movie that will likely split the audience, but will still manage to bring a smile to whichever side of the line that you are on. I enjoyed it, although I had hoped for better. I will always have the soundtrack to relive the best moments. Long live D!



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