Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny tells the fictional story of the creation of Jack Black’s real-life band, the aforementioned Tenacious D (which consists of Black and co-star Kyle Gass (Elf), both on guitar). If you’ve heard Tenacious D before and didn’t find it funny or necessarily good, or find Jack Black’s usual screen persona grating (and in the case of this movie, he’s at full-on bravado), then this movie most likely isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you find Tenacious D and their brand of humor uproariously hilarious, then that’s exactly what you will get.
The band itself began its existence as an HBO series before putting out a full-length album in 2001, which is where much of the film’s problems lie. What may work in a half hour of television or over the course of a comedy album does not necessarily mean that there’s enough concept for it to work as a feature film. This is especially obvious when certain scenes feel like padding, such as the hallucination sequence with Sasquatch. This isn’t to say that the film is without its bright spots; they’re just too few and far between.
The movie’s rock-opera opening, for instance, is really the peak of the film. The scene features a young Jack Black (Troy Gentile, Nacho Libre) being told about the evils of rock music by his father (Meat Loaf), when a poster Black has of former Black Sabbath and Rainbow front man Ronnie James Dio comes to life. The real-life Dio explains that Black must go to Hollywood to form “the greatest band in the world.” From there the film is never really able to keep up with what it’s already accomplished, as it follows Black (called JB in the film, though he’s more or less supposed to be playing himself) as he meets up with Gass. The duo start Tenacious D, and then go in search of “The Pick of Destiny” — a guitar pick used by bands like The Who and AC/DC on various Rolling Stone covers, and purportedly made from the tooth of Satan (Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters). Black and Gass need the pick in order to attempt to win an open-mike contest to pay the rent.
While the concept is decent enough, especially compared to most modern comedies, the movie’s never able to live up to its opening. Some bits here and there work, but the film relies too much on the requisite weed jokes and bodily function humor to really set itself apart (Where is it written that every comedy must have at least one scene take place inside a men’s room?). Since the film is essentially a celebration of rock bombast, it would seem natural for the film to follow in that mold, but it’s never as over-the-top as it should be. It’s unfortunate because the film’s highlights at least give the impression that it could have maybe been something more. Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content and drug use.
— reviewed by Justin Souther