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Being Picky 

Tenacious D's movie debut is OK, but lacks the hilarity of the TV series

The self-anointed "Greatest Band in the World" gets their own movie with Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, a funny if not sidesplitting film about the band's origins. While the movie lacks the hilarity of the duo's HBO shorts, it's still funnier than most stuff being called comedy today, and Jack Black is in fine form. Fans of the D might actually enjoy this less than newcomers, because fans will expect nothing but the ultimate in rock goodness from JB (Jack Black) and KG (Kyle Gass). Their movie is good, but not great.

The film starts off in the town of Kickapoo, where young JB (Troy Gentile, playing a young Black for the second time this year after Nacho Libre) profanely declares his loyalty to rock, much to the dismay of his Bible-thumping father (a beautifully cast Meat Loaf). The opening sequence is done "rock opera" style, á la The Who's Tommy, and it's actually the best part of the movie. I don't want to be too discouraging by saying the film peaks in its first six minutes, but it does. That's not to say the rest of the film isn't fun; it simply isn't the cinematic perfection of its opening sequence.

After some tutelage from his Ronnie James Dio poster, JB runs away to Hollywood, where he eventually meets up with long-haired street musician KG and begins schooling in the ways of rock. JB must endure bottles thrown at his head, heckling and learn the power slide while KG insults him. While perusing rock magazines, the two discover that the rock guitar gods (Van Halen, Townshend, etc.) all used the same guitar pick. A visit to Guitar Center (and a very funny cameo) reveals the origins of the pick: It is the tooth of Satan, and all who possess it achieve rock greatness.

This commences a road trip as the two journey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in search of the magical pick. Not much is going on plot-wise, but the road trip does provide an excuse for JB to eat mushrooms and hallucinate a visit with the legendary Sasquatch (John C. Reilly, reprising his role from the HBO short). The visit culminates with JB momentarily becoming a mini-Sasquatch, which is hilarious, because Black looks like he's 6 years old in his costume.

As in their video for "Tribute," the boys battle Satan (David Grohl, reprising his role from the video) for rock supremacy near film's end. While, again, the film peaks in its first six minutes, the last minutes of the film are almost as good. Grohl, slathered in red paint and wearing demon horns like the ones Tim Curry donned for Ridley Scott's Legend, makes for a mighty good master of darkness.

The music, although not as good as the stuff on their debut album, helps support the story nicely. While classics like "Tribute" and "Wonderboy" are absent, the duo does perform the mighty "History of Tenacious D" at their first open-mic gig. (Paul F. Tompkins reprises his HBO role as open-mic host.) "Kickapoo," which plays during the film's opening, is the best of the new music. Another track, "Master Exploder," is notable, because Black uses it to make a man's brain pop out of his head.

For those of you who find Black's routine a bit grating, steer clear of this film, because he is in full-on Black manic mode for this movie. Even die-hard fans might find him a tad annoying this time out. (I didn't, but I would understand if someone did.) For those of you wondering if he manages any massive cock push-ups during the film's running time, the answer is a resounding yes.

Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny might suffer a bit when compared to the greatness that was the HBO series (which you can purchase on the Tenacious D: The Masterworks DVD). While it doesn't live up to the quality of those shows, the film doesn't feel like a sketch being stretched out into a feature-length picture. Director Liam Lynch and the band keep things moving at a decent enough pace with some good laughs and tasty jams along the way.

More by Bob Grimm

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