The Sunday Review: The Pick of Destiny

Sunday 4 March (2007)

tenacious d in the pick of destiny

I don’t like Tenacious D. I really don’t like the annoying song ‘Tribute’, and I especially don’t like the fact that my girlfriend and her best friend always put it on the jukebox in the pub. Jack Black I can take or leave – he’s never really impressed me, but he’s never pissed me off either. And Kyle Gass… well, who the hell is he?

So when The Pick of Destiny was announced I sighed heartily, because I knew it would be crap and I knew I’d be forced to go and watch it. But then we went to see Saw III or something, and they showed a preview clip of the film – not a trailer, an actual clip. And it was pretty funny. So I figured I’d give this movie more of a chance than I had been preparing to, and I’m glad I did because it’s very funny.

The plot is, at best, flimsy, and most of the gags seem to be structured around either getting stoned, swearing profusely, or unusual cameos – but, so what? Not every film can be The Big Lebowski or Dr. Strangelove, and a bit of mindless fun is sometimes just the ticket. It really, really helps though (and this possibly makes me totally biased towards the movie) that at its core it’s just a big long paean to rock.

In a quick intro (with a musical turn from both Meatloaf and Ronnie James Dio) we learn how JB runs away from his religious upbringing in Kickapoo, Missouri, and travels to Hollywood where it is prophesised that he will ‘form a strong alliance, and the world’s most awesome band.’ He meets Kyle Gass playing on the Sunset Strip, and begins his ‘rock training.’ Then, they inadvertantly discover the legend of the Pick of Destiny, a guitar pick fashioned from the tooth of Satan himself, which can endow any guitarist with ungodly skills…

The film is, of course, interspersed with songs from Tenacious D, and they’re actually quite good (the highlight being ‘Beelzeboss’ from the finale.) One memorably funny song scene is a dream sequence where JB fantasises about how the band will play once they have the PoD – singing so loud he causes a microphone to burst into flame, and even blows one poor guy’s brains out, all whilst subtly morphing into a proto-Ozzy rock God, complete with black eyeliner and chainmail.

In fact, it is the small moments like this which make the film funny, as opposed to the overall story. Ben Stiller’s turn as an aging roadie, relating the tale of how he quit his job, moved to Rome and spent six years learning Latin (all in the name of rock) is a highlight, as is John C. Reilly as Sasquatch, in an extended trip sequence after JB accidentally consumes some magic mushrooms. The best-in-show award goes to Tim Robbins, though, for his short appearance as an old rocker who has spent his life in search of the Pick.

I could go on about moments in this film which have made me laugh repeatedly. The car chase, the cock-pushups, the rock-off with the devil – all great scenes. This is a highly recommended movie if you’re capable of enjoying some mindless fun, and especially if you love rock music. It probably helps if you’re high as well, but I saw it sober so it’s not a pre-requisite.

Good fun!

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