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Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny

They are Jake and Elwood with more head-banging, Wayne and Garth with less mugging, Cheech and Chong with a slightly weaker stash, the Brokeback cowboys with a more platonic take on man-love. They are Tenacious D, and they're the stars of the second funniest film of 2006.


In the tradition of Batman Begins and Casino Royale, the clock is rolled back on the legendary icons the D—the self-proclaimed greatest band in the world—as the curtain is pulled back on their secret origins and the demons that drive them are unveiled… OK, so it's not really that deep. Though the heavy metal/comedy combo of Jack/JB/"Jabeles" (Jack Black) and Kyle/KB/"Kage" (Kyle Gass) have long played hip clubs, cut an album, starred in their own short-lived HBO series and amassed a devoted cult of fans, their first feature film reveals how the pudgy duo first meet, form the band, meet their first fan (Jason Reed as TV holdover Lee) go questing the fabled Pick of Destiny—a shard of Satan's tooth turned into a guitar pick passed among rock's most accomplished shredders—and ultimately smack down with the devil himself. Believe it or not, it's a love story.


Thanks to their long professional partnership, Black and Gass comprise two perfectly crafted sides of a very polished comedy coin: Black is the wild-eyed, uncontrolled id, Gass is the low-energy, manipulative slacker, and they meet in the middle with an equal amount of unchecked delusion about their musical ability and potential. They both deftly pull off the trickiest types of comedy: smart jokes in the guise of dumb characters, and it's nice to see Black—obviously the bigger film star of the two—share the funniest bits equally with Gass. Of course, all of this hinges on the audience's tolerance for the ambitiously clueless ego-cases (and moviegoers who only love Black for his tamer version of the same persona in School of Rock should be warned—this is the cruder, ruder and more profane incarnation) but we admit we've long had a taste for the D. They boys carry they movie squarely on their shoulders, though longtime D supporters Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller stand out in cameos—the first Stiller cameo in ages that's both amusing and non-gratuitous! Also appearing in small bits: SNL's Fred Armisen and Amy Poehler, Oscar-nominee Amy Adams, Colin Hanks, hard rock hero Ronnie James Dio, Foo Fighter Dave Grohl as Satan and an uncredited John C. Reilly, though you'll never, ever recognize him when he's onscreen. And kudos to whoever had the inspired notion to cast Meat Loaf as JB's pious father and Troy Gentile as the young, rockin' JB (Gentile also played a junior version of Black in Nacho Libre).


Helmer Liam Lynch, who also collaborated on the screenplay with Black and Gass and directed their music video "Tribute," understands the absurd world of the D completely, and demonstrates a clever, assured sense of straight-faced silliness. Indeed, the first ten minutes of the film alone—a mini-rock opera in itself—announce him as a comedy director to watch. Although we're sure the bandmates themselves would take full credit for the film's success. After all, they may not have made the greatest movie in the world but, in D-speak, they came up with a pretty rockin' tribute version.

Bottom Line rated this film 3 stars.