Starring: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Jason Reed, Dave Grohl
Despite being around approximately a decade (showing up in “Bio-Dome”, and later in their own HBO series), Tenacious D are known for their 2001 self titled album which also spawned a DVD containing their well known music videos and shorts. Since this time Jack Black has become a much bigger celebrity, who relies on the same type of personality just often enough that he’s in the middle of a backlash. If you ask me, Jack is still funny, but he is definitely overexposed. So now at what seems like a bad time, a Tenacious D feature length movie has been released, following the same generic road movie plot we’ve seen in everything from “Dumb and Dumber” to “Borat” (traveling, meeting weirdos along the way, the two break up and then get back together just in time to reach their goal). If it were funny all this would be forgiven, but with 5 years of expectations, the decks seem to have been stacked against the D.
One of the films greatest strengths is arguably also its biggest weakness. While director Liam Lynch has put together some of their popular videos, and in his own experiments has repeatedly shown to be creative and bizarre enough, he simply does not have the experience to carry the film in its non-musical sequences. The CD soundtrack was 30 minutes long, and with 1 song cut entirely and 2 in the credits, that makes around 20 minutes of material Lynch excels at and around an hour of movie that he simply does not have the skill to make work. The script itself is not all that strong – while the recycling of jokes from the TV show is not all that great an idea, whats worse is the number of people in this film that could have positively contributed who were wasted entirely or whose cameos did not go anywhere – including Ben Stiller, Amy Poehler, David Koechner, Amy Adams, Colin Hanks, David Krumholz as well as many of Jack Black’s former castmates from Mr. Show. A few cameos do work, namely Meat Loaf and Dio in the strong opening sequence, Dave Grohl as the devil, and Tim Robbins in his (not first but) second appearance in the film, but otherwise the film suffers from a lot of filler material where there were opportunites for comedy but jokes simply were not even attempted. It seems to me that perhaps someone like a Jay Roach or a Todd Phillips should have been brought on for the non-musical sequences and Lynch left to focus on what he does best. Either this or maybe a better idea – using some of the self titled albums’ songs and making the full movie a bizarre rock opera, one big long music video instead of a half assed action comedy with occasional music. For a rock movie it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t rock hard enough, and for a comedy it isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t funny enough.
Yet somehow it is difficult to dislike. When the film does work, as in the drug induced sasquatch sequence and a few other moments, it works quite well. Black and Gass really do seem to be having a lot of fun throughout the film, and so if you aren’t expecting too much, there is fun to be had. It would be hard for me to see a big fan of the band not at least finding the whole thing silly and cute. Overall, “The Pick of Destiny” is destined for cult success, but I don’t know about “cult classic” status. My decision whether or not to pick up the DVD will pretty much rest on the quality of the bonus features. A mild recommendation to those this has been specifically marketed to, and a recommendation to avoid for most others. – Goon
Recommended If You Like: Mr. Show, Zoolander, Half Baked