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Tenacious D in|
The Pick of Destiny
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Liam Lynch|
scr Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Liam Lynch
with Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Jason Reed, Meat Loaf, Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller, Amy Poehler, Colin Hanks, Ned Bellamy, Fred Armisen, Paul F Tompkins, Ronnie James Dio
release US/UK 24.Nov.06
06/US New Line 1h34
Rock on: Gass and Black
Packed with edgy South Park style humour, this high-energy comedy just isn't clever enough to really work. It feels only half thought through--funny but stretching one joke far beyond the breaking point.
JB (Black) leaves his loser family in Kickapoo, Missouri, inspired by his hero Ronny James Dio to "go my son and rock". In Venice Beach, he links up with KG (Gass), and they discover the existence of a guitar pick responsible for the success of musicians throughout history. It turns out to be made from the devil's chipped tooth, and they hatch a plan to steal it, and guarantee their success. Of course, nothing goes as planned.
Black is so hilarious that he can make even the thinnest material enjoyable. And there are certainly some uproarious gags dotted throughout this film. There are also several fabulously over-the-top headbanging songs, which lovingly parody the operatic lyrics and shrieking guitar licks. The full-on musical production numbers are gleefully integrated into the story, making the most of the cast of rockers--both the real ones and the wannabes.
Of the cameos, Stiller is the funniest, but then he gets to tell the legendary tale of the Pick of Destiny. Although Robbins is slightly uneven as the apparently jet-blasted stranger who helps them find it. Essentially everyone (Black and Gass included) feel like they're in a comedy sketch that's been extended with songs and gags. Some of these things are deeply inspired, such as a hilarious Clockwork Orange pastiche, KG's gig simulator and a groovy Teletubby-like mushroom trip. Others provoke smiles or eye-rolls instead of laughs.
Much of the dialog is very funny, even though it repeats the same joke over and over. But the storyline feels haphazard and stupid. It only works because of Black and Gass' total commitment to the music ("We'll pay the rent with our rock" is their battle cry). Their desperation to become stars is oddly sweet, but as it becomes more hyperactive, the film starts to feel like a Blues Brothers knock-off. It's engagingly moronic, but that's not always enough.
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© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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