Black Comedy in ‘Tenacious’

Back in 2001 when Jack Black was asked about the possibility of a Tenacious D movie, he promised, ‘There will be no D wine until it’s D time.’
At long last, the greatest rock band on Earth finally has its movie.
‘Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny,’ now in theaters, is a rock musical with rock-opera dreams. It should come as no surprise that a movie about the D can hardly let a scene go by without rocking out at least a little.
That’s not a criticism, either. ‘Pick’ is at its best when Black and bandmate/co-everything Kyle Gass rock your socks off and make asses of themselves. Their short-lived HBO series made good use of their special brand of stoner/rocker humor, but the pair has a harder time when asked to extend the laughs beyond the duration of a bong hit.
This disappointment may be a result of the inspired sequence preceding the opening titles, in which Black’s childhood struggle against the tyranny of his conservative family is told via a miniature rock-opera.
Meatloaf is perfectly cast as Black’s disapproving father, and child actor Mason Knight perfectly replicates Black’s facial expressions and body language. Add to that a cameo by Ronnie James Dio, who comes to the boy in a vision, encouraging him to seek his fortune in Hollywood, and it’s hard not to expect greatness from ‘Pick.’
If co-writers Black, Gass and Liam Lynch (who also directed) had had the courage to continue with this rock-opera style instead of falling back on convention, even the pedestrian plot could have made for an enjoyable hour and 40 minutes. Instead, their road trip to the Rock History Museum to retrieve a mystical guitar pick fashioned from one of Satan’s fangs is a disappointingly by-the-numbers MacGuffin chase straight out of the average teen comedy.
In the end, they overcome adversity to achieve their goal, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and learn that true rock godhood comes not from some ancient infernal artifact, but from the little Satan inside each of us.
This is the first feature film outing for Lynch, who is perhaps best known for directing the D’s ‘Tribute’ video and their HBO series (and undeservedly less so for his L.A.-based puppet show ‘Sifl and Olly’). While he has moments of genius, his unfamiliarity with the medium comes through in longer comedic sequences. For example, one scene starts off brilliantly with a spoof of ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ in which Black contorts, robots and crawls his way through a maze of lasers accompanied by a techno tune whose lyrics are the titles of classic 1980s arcade games. It’s hilarious on several levels, but the punch line