Before I begin this snarky review, I just want to say that I really enjoy Jack Black as an actor. He's starting to show some much-needed versatility, and it's good to see him tackling roles that aren't catered to his uber-wacky personality. After all, it's fun to stretch your legs a little, right? See new sights, hang out with different people. Or, you know, make more money by starring in pictures you wouldn't have been caught dead in five years ago. I may not agree with the direction Jack's headed, but at least he's trying. Big fat gold star for him. Hoo-rah.
As a musician who plays "funny music," however, Black is hit and miss with me. Some of his stuff is catchy and slightly amusing, while others are embarrassingly awful and not nearly as hilarious as he and his band mate Kyle Gass seem to think they are. While I'm sure Tenacious D has a loyal following of intelligent, well-read fans, most seem content with whatever nonsense the pair decides to release into the global marketplace that decade. In fact, your opinion of this dodgy band and their work will ultimately sway your vote when it comes to their full-length feature Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. Think of it as one long Tenacious D music video, and make of that what you will.
Directed by fellow funny guy Liam Lynch, PoD lovingly documents Tenacious D's rise from total obscurity to relative mediocrity. After encountering Kyle's hypnotizing one-man show, Jack Black — who is only referred to as JB in the film — is left awe-struck and hungry for more. Kyle agrees to mentor the naive young lad, teaching him all the deep, dark secrets of rock-and-roll. Unfortunately for JB, his newfound friend's skills are merely a front for lesser things; his teacher, it seems, is nothing more than a full-time failure himself. But all is quickly forgiven, as there are more pressing matters to attend to.
Like, say, paying the rent.
Despite being much better than any open mic act I've ever seen, Tenacious D's entertaining performance registers as a wistful fart within the bowels of the music industry. Crushed but eager for success, Kyle and JB painstakingly research the traits that made the legends of rock so, well, legendary. Their desire to unlock the secrets of their idols soon leads to the discovery of The Pick of Destiny, a magical object crafted from the rotten tooth of Satan himself. The pick was last seen in the hands of Eddie Van Halen before it was stuck onto the guitar legend's axe and put on display in the Rock-N-Roll History Museum. Realizing their financial livelihood is staked on winning an open mic competition, the duo set out to steal the pick in order to craft the greatest music known to man. Will they succeed?
After the end credits had disappeared and the final gag had presented its bounty before me, I honestly didn't know what to think. Genius? Outright failure? Brilliant? So-so? It baffled me. There were moments when I genuinely laughed out loud, fueled by some truly bizarre lyrical content and the inclusion of a psychedelic sequence featuring a very sweet and understanding Sasquatch. Ben Stiller also turns in an unusual performance, essentially stealing the entire film from a buddies. A production, I might add, which he himself co-produced. You're the man, Stiller. You're the man.
On the other hand, there are bits and gags and jokes that are downright unfunny. While the proverbial "dick and fart" routine is rather humorous when used sparingly, it's not too amusing when you're subjected to it on a regular basis. If that's not sophomoric enough for you, feel free to inhale the many pot jokes exhaled by an assortment of oddball, THC-soaked characters. Again, this stuff is funny in small doses. One marijuana reference after another can get moldy and quite stale before you can take a hit off your buddy's water bong. That's assuming, of course, that you chipped in for the bag.
Am I merely too old for this kind of stuff? Has my sense of humor become so high brow that I can't laugh at a fat guy moving his bowels in a public bathroom while a creepy Tim Robbins lurks on the other side of the stall door? Probably not. I guess it just boils down to restraint. While you may have a thousand scatological jokes up your comedic sleeve, methinks only a handful will do the trick. You could easily argue that I'm being too hard on a stupid gross-out comedy, of course, but I don't think I am. Strip away the salty music and Pick of Destiny is nothing more than a PG-13 American Pie spin-off masquerading as hip, irreverent comedy.
Speaking of music, I was actually quite surprised by Tenacious D's output this time around, most of which seems specifically written for the film. Their album was quite a chore to listen to, I'm afraid, so I thought this aspect of the picture would surely tap dance all over my last nerve. Surprisingly, their music is easily the best part of the film. I'm particularly fond of "Kickapoo" and "Master Exploder," though it's honestly tough to choose a favorite. They may not get a DVD purchase out of me, but I'll certainly pick up the soundtrack if I see it lurking in a cut-out bin in a year or two.
So what do all of these words and sentences mean? Well, if you're a Tenacious D fan, it means you're gonna love every second of Pick of Destiny. In fact, you may even watch it twice within a 24-hour period. Hey, it could happen. The rest of us, unfortunately, will either love it or hate it. Is it worth the time and money you'll spend to discover which category you fall into? Possibly. You may think it's a staggering work of sewage, on par with whatever National Lampoon's flick is being released that week. Then again, you may think it's the best motion picture you've ever encountered in your pathetic little life. That depends, of course, on how much pot you have on hand.
And whether or not you chipped in for the bag.Powered by Sidelines