This past Thursday, I saw an advance screening of Tenacious D’s Pick Of Destiny.

As a great fan of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, having caught their acoustical jams at the intimate Largo club years before they graduated to Sony Records, like many fans of their act, I had been awaiting their big-screen debut with much anticipation. But I had also heard rumblings that the film was in trouble, originally slated for a November 2005 release. It is July 2006 and it appears they’re still trying to figure out what to do with this film.

My humble suggestion would be to start over from scratch.

While I found it amusing at times, there were long periods of screen time spent wishing I was somewhere, anywhere else than this.

It wasn’t because I dislike Tenacious D, but, rather, because I was watching a quite unlikeable film that unknowingly disassembles the myth of “The D”.

See, what makes Tenacious D work so well is that you have two kindred spirits in Kyle and Jack. Where Loggins & Messina claimed to be brothers of different mothers, Kyle and Jack don’t have to make such a claim. They are Siamese twins of different mothers. They were separated at birth, but reunited by ROCK & ROLL!!!

Rather than play up that angle, showing the two future rock gods as kids on a playground, bonding over a shared love for Dio, and uniting against the powers that strive to keep them (and their beloved ROCK & ROLL!!!) down, they depict Jack Black as a young metalhead rebelling against his father (played by Meatloaf), who ultimately leaves home to find Hollywood.

They also depict Kyle as a rock wanna-be, playing for spare change along Venice Beach. Upon meeting Kyle, a wide-eyed innocent Jack Black begs to audition for the Kyle Gass Band, but is rebuked rudely by the long-haired rock stallion. That night, Jack is attacked by a gang of thugs. Kyle, who hides while the attack takes place and then takes credit for chasing them off, takes pity upon Black and allows him to crash at his apartment.

Kyle then puts Jack through a rock & roll boot camp of sorts and the two new friends continue to bond… until the day that Jack discovers that Kyle’s long flowing locks are, in fact, a wig and that the royalty check for a song called “I Love You Pumpkin” was actually money his parents had sent him to cover rent.

While some of this was funny, it was not at all inspired and that, my friend, is what makes Tenacious D so cool. Their music, their comedy, their commitment. All 110% inspired.

Instead, the film builds a backstory that completely undoes the legacy of Tenacious D. They weren’t brothers of different mothers. They just ran into each other on the beach a few years ago.

After their first open mic night, they soon discover that all rock greats – Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Angus Young – all played the same guitar pick. Convinced that this is what they need to attain greatness, they go in search of this “holy grail”. Sure, there is a nice belly laugh waiting for viewers upon seeing Ben Stiller decked out as a hapless rocker working at Guitar Center, but, by going in search of this “Pick Of Destiny”, the plot is lost. Tenacious D would never have gone in search of something to make them great. They’ve been convinced of their own greatness from Day 1.

On the journey to find the “Pick Of Destiny”, they stop at a road-side diner and, while Jack is in the restroom, Kyle decides he’d rather take off with a bunch of sorority girls who believe his claims of rock stardom. So, you want us to believe that Kyle’s an ass, just so he can go to the party and be revealed (again) as a fake? Okay…but why?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

I know its only a movie, but, after awhile, it becomes a travesty. Jack, wandering the woods alone, eats some mushrooms and then believes he’s flying through the air on bigfoot’s back, or floating down a strawberry stream, all the while wandering through the woods like a stoned teenager. As you read this, you can probably imagine this being funny. Jack dressed up as a rather compact bigfoot, much to my surprise, was not funny.

Jack and Kyle reunite in an air duct inside the Rock Hall where the Pick of Destiny is housed. They make it past the stoned security guards, but are temporarily thwarted by the high-tech laser beams that guard the pick. Without missing a beat, Jack shifts into Catherine Zeta-Jones mode and circumvents all the lasers, except for the one right in front of the “Turn Off Lasers” button. One miraculous cock push-up later, though, and the Pick of Destiny is theirs!

But wait, there’s still a high-speed police chase and a showdown with the Devil before, duh, the boys realize they don’t need the pick to be great.

In the end, they don’t even play the open mic-night for which they went in search of said pick.

Then, um, why was so much time spent going in search of the “Pick Of Destiny”? Why is the film called “Tenacious D: Pick Of Destiny”? Why do I keep thinking of the seventh season of Dallas, where we find out it was all a dream?

Tagged in: