Tenacious D film review

By Mark Guarino

Wayne and Garth, meet Jack and Kyle.

The suburban rock dudes created by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey affectionately lampooned the undeniable trance hard rock and heavy metal places upon young men who can’t get girls and are trapped in an eternal adolescence. In the pair of “Wayne’s World” movies and the SNL sketches that proceeded them, the leather, snarl and obnoxious pomp of heavy metal was shed of its satanic baggage and instead presented as harmless and comforting as a child’s lullaby.

That same approach runs through “Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny,” the first full-length vehicle from novelty rock duo Jack Black and Kyle Gass. True, the setting switches from Aurora, Ill. to Venice Beach, Calif., but the flatulence remains the same. Bong jokes, hot girls and a lot of gas wafts through this story of two losers who go on a holy grail hunt in search of a demonic guitar pick that will transform them into hardcore rockers, get them girls and, along the way, pay the $200 rent.

In what combines “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Wizard of Oz” and any random Three Stooges short, “Pick” ranks with “Spinal Tap,” the granddaddy of all rock movies. In its expertly hewn and continually comical satire, it takes the next step of delivering songs and performances that are just as worthy as the heroes it reveres. Who says overblown rock maestros like Meatloaf and Ronnie James Dio are the only rock gods in town? In this movie, both sing Tenacious D songs.

Tenacious D began as short-lived HBO show that attracted a cult following that built until the concert tour and accompanying album (it sold over two million copies) became inevitable. Unlike Myers and Carvey, Black and Gass do not wear costumes and they are musicians, writing and performing their won songs. The joke that never gets old is that, in their pursuit of playing the biggest, baddest, loudest and most evil music on the planet, ever, they perform accompanied by two acoustic guitars. Just like Peter, Paul and Mary.

The songs in “Pick” are not as good as those on their 2001 album, but they do the job. The pacing is swift and the comedy programmed to surprise. The first arrives via the opening moments featuring Meatloaf playing Black’s evangelical father whose wagging finger and cracking belt give the young dreamer all the reasons he needs to run away to Hollywood, the recommended destiny by Dio himself, emerging from a wall poster.

The entire sequence is told through music, an amazing feat in an age when the word “musical” suggests blathering Broadway singers or misguided film-to-stage mediocrity. But “Pick” is ultimately a musical and one that proves to be constantly entertaining.

Black and Gass are a perfect compliment — Black is the raucous blowhard and Gass his Zen master fool. Their scenes between songs highlight their character’s naivitee —
Young men
But songs take off; strawberry; sasquatch; absurd
Duet with devil grohl

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