×

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

Theaters would be wise to disarm smoke detectors for showings of "Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny," a kind of origin story for the self-anointed "greatest band on Earth" starring Jack Black and Kyle Gass.

With:
JB - Jack Black KG - Kyle Gass Lee - JR Reed Lil' JB - Troy Gentile Dio - Ronnie James Dio Open Mic Host - Paul F. Tompkins

Theaters would be wise to disarm smoke detectors for showings of “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny,” a kind of origin story for the self-anointed “greatest band on Earth” starring Jack Black and Kyle Gass. Not surprisingly, the pic struggles at times to flesh out even its relatively brief 90-odd-minute duration, but it delivers some genuine if generally low-brow laughs along the way. An avid cult of “D” devotees should ensure a respectable opening (though probably not equal to Black’s recent outings) and sweet licks in DVD release, where mood-enhancement aids will be all but compulsory.

Black and Gass created the duo a dozen years ago, mixing a knowing sense of hard rock’s sound and fury with wild and humorous lyrics. In between there has been a short-lived HBO program, bestselling CD and raucous live shows.

As a feature, the vibe is very much akin to a live-action Beavis and Butt-Head, complete with the incumbent challenges of stretching a limited concept into a theatrical format. Several cameos help (including exec producer Ben Stiller and Tim Robbins, whose Actor’s Gang troupe was where “D” began), but only the most ardent fans won’t find themselves studying their watches once in awhile.

Directed by Liam Lynch (who helmed the concert film “Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic” and shares script credit with Black and Gass), the story opens with Black’s young JB fleeing his Christian upbringing (singer Meat Loaf, an inspired choice, appears as his dad) for Venice Beach to pursue his dream of rock godhood.

Soon he encounters guitar virtuoso KG (Gass), and, after a run-in with “A Clockwork Orange”-like quartet of hooligans (will anyone in the target audience get that gag? Unlikely), KG takes JB in and puts him through a training regimen infused with “Kung Fu” overtones.

Pic meanders a bit as the two bond over bong loads and plot to win an open mic competition to pay the rent. They then learn of a magical guitar pick that could inspire the masterpiece they yearn to create, at which point the action kicks into a caper mode as they steal the pick from a rock museum. This is followed by a gratuitous car chase that’s either an appeal to “The Dukes of Hazzard” crowd or simply an attempt to pad out the narrative.

As the more accomplished performer of the two, Black carries much of the comedy load, and frankly, there’s more of him here than the average viewer would want to consume in one sitting. Nevertheless, many of the lyrics are funny, including a closing-credit claim that “our movie’s better than ‘Citizen Kane.'”

Not hardly, but give credit to Lynch and his design team for creating the free-wheeling look, which includes an extended if somewhat cheesy fantasy sequence after JB’s meal of organic mushrooms. (The film has yet to be rated, but given the ample drug use, profanity, flatulence, and graphic depiction of the skill that doing “cock push-ups” develops, it will surely be rated “R.”)

For Tenacious D acolytes the movie has been long in coming, and the appetite for the related CD should be healthy. In terms of comedies aimed at the dazed and confused, “Tenacious D” is hardly the pick of the litter, but it litters enough laughs in its wake to do more than just blow smoke.

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

Production: A New Line Cinema release of a Red Hour production. Produced by Stuart Cornfeld, Jack Black, Kyle Gass. Executive producers, Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener, Cale Boyter, Ben Stiller. Directed by Liam Lynch. Screenplay, Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Lynch.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Robert Brinkmann; editor, David Rennie; music, Tenacious D; score, John King, Andrew Gross; production designer, Martin Whist; art director, Maria Baker; set decorator, Don Diers; costume designer, Dayna Pink; sound (SDDS-Dolby Digital-Stereo DTS), Pud Cusack; sound designer/supervising sound editor, Elmo Weber; co-supervising sound editor, David Bach; visual effects supervisor, David D. Johnson; assistant director, Milos Milicevic; second unit director, Rick Avery; casting, Juel Bestrop, Jeanne McCarthy. Reviewed at the Pacific Galleria Stadium 16 theater, Sherman Oaks, Calif., Nov. 2, 2006. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: JB - Jack Black KG - Kyle Gass Lee - JR Reed Lil' JB - Troy Gentile Dio - Ronnie James Dio Open Mic Host - Paul F. Tompkins

More Film

  • Pinewood Studios James Bond

    Netflix's Shepperton Studios Deal Is Stretching the U.K.'s Production Limits

    Netflix’s huge new hub at Shepperton Studios outside London is a further fillip for Britain’s booming production sector. Amid jitters over Brexit and its effects on the economy, the streaming giant’s commitment is a vote of confidence in the U.K. entertainment industry and a continuing source of local jobs. But the decision by Netflix to [...]

  • Bottom of the 9th

    Film Review: ‘Bottom of the 9th’

    Nearly two decades after scoring an audience award at Sundance for “Two Family House,” a smartly understated yet deeply affecting indie about a Staten Island factory worker who deeply regrets stifling his showbiz ambitions, director Raymond De Felitta steps back up to the plate with “Bottom of the 9th,” another dramatically solid and emotionally satisfying [...]

  • THE BRIDGE - "Calaca" - Episode

    Endemol Shine Builds ‘The Bridge’ in Africa (EXCLUSIVE)

    DURBAN–Endemol Shine Group has sold the rights to adapt its critically acclaimed and highly popular Nordic Noir detective series “The Bridge” to Cape Town-based production company Both Worlds Pictures, Variety has learned exclusively. The series will feature an all-African cast and will be set around the Beit Bridge border crossing between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Originally known [...]

  • Durban Film Fest 2019

    Durban Fest Hails Film as ‘Conscience of Our Nation’

    DURBAN–When Ros and Teddy Sarkin raised the curtain on the first Durban Intl. Film Festival 40 years ago, the odds were long that their scrappy fest would survive its inaugural edition. The apartheid government and its draconian censorship board had a stranglehold on the films that reached South African theaters, banning the sorts of subversive [...]

  • Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell

    Film Review: 'Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell'

    “Streetwise,”  the classic and haunting 1984 documentary about homeless street kids in Seattle, is a movie that’s now 35 years old. But for anyone who has seen it, the children it’s about — drifters, hustlers, squatters, thieves, prostitutes — remain frozen in time. And none of them was ever more memorable than Tiny, the 14-year-old [...]

  • Animation Studio Fire

    Revenge May Have Been Motive for Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

    Revenge for allegedly stolen ideas is emerging as a possible motive for the devastating arson attack on Kyoto Animation in Japan, which killed 33 people. Investigative sources quoted by Japan’s Jiji Press said Friday that the suspected arsonist, who is in custody but has not been named, held a grudge against the studio. “Since [the [...]

  • Terminator: Dark Fate Gabriel Luna

    'Terminator: Dark Fate' Cast Proud of Latinx Representation in Latest Installment

    The stars of the Tim Miller-directed “Terminator: Dark Fate” stormed the stage of San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H on Thursday, but it wasn’t until after the panel — which included appearances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton — that Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna and Diego Boneta reflected on what makes the upcoming installment in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content