Movie review: 'Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny'

EntertainmentMoviesJack BlackMeat LoafRobert JohnsonTim Robbins

2 stars (out of four)

Even with Jack Black's eyebrows and a musical showdown with the devil, "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny" is kind of a whiff. Directed by Liam Lynch from a script by Black, Lynch and Black's fellow Tenacious D band member Kyle Gass, "The Pick of Destiny" relays a tall-tale version of how two musicians met and became the world's most dangerous band. Gass may be the least likely fellow ever to co-star in a rock movie. He looks more like a roadie who lost his tour bus, or a bouncer gone to seed.

Black is different, though he and Gass have obviously been eating a lot of the same foods. The enduring appeal of Black -- besides his acting ability, which is narrow but in its range delightful and ferociously engaged -- is that the minute he starts to sing, or to move, he transforms into a rock star. While Black will only get better as an actor once he realizes that "too much" is sometimes just too much, even in a toss-off like "The Pick of Destiny" he has real camera presence.

The film pulls a variation on the old Robert Johnson-sold-his-soul myth. JB (Black) and KG (Gass) discover that all the great rock guitarists used the same unholy pick -- the devil's own. It's now in the clutches of a rock 'n' roll museum in upstate California. In order to fulfill their show biz destiny and score with women much younger than they are, the boy-men set off in pursuit of the pick.

It's all pretty inside-y, and while some of the offhanded gags work, director Lynch is no whiz when it comes to energizing a scene or feeding one swiftly into another. A large amount of dope is smoked in "The Pick of Destiny," perhaps the most since the salad days of Cheech & Chong. This may be the problem. Pot rarely helped anybody's comic timing.

mjphillips@tribune.com

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'Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny'

Directed by Liam Lynch; screenplay by Jack Black, Kyle Gass and Lynch; cinematography by Robert Brinkmann; edited by David Rennie; production design by Martin Whist; music by John King and Andrew Gross; produced by Black, Gass and Stuart Cornfield. A New Line Cinema release; opens Wednesday. Running time: 1:40. MPAA rating: R (for pervasive language, sexual content and drug use).

JB - Jack Black

KG - Kyle Gass

Lee - JR Reed

Bud Black - Meat Loaf

The Stranger - Tim Robbins

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