What makes a dumb movie good? Where is that elusive line between laughing at.lets say Steve-O putting a fishing hook through his cheek in the recently released “Jackass 2” and rolling your eyes at Jack Black’s dick, weed, and fart jokes? I wish I knew the answer to this comedic conundrum, because then maybe the two hours or so I wasted in the movie theatre trying my best to piece together some vague meaning in “Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny” would not have been in vain.
Contrary to what the tagline would have you believe, “Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny” is not the greatest movie in the world. It is, however, one of the many mediocre movies in the world. A 90 minute adventure into the fictional genesis of Tenacious D, it is appropriately backed with an original soundtrack. Now, I am as big a fan of any of “Wonderboy” and “I’m the Only Gay Eskimo” , but the rockin’ jams offered up by Jack Black and Kyle Gass are formulaic and only serve to drive the plot, inching the movie along, scene by stupid scene.
The plot involves Jack Black’s humble beginnings in the Bible Belt as a slightly chubby young lad who preferred to worship Black Sabbath than Jesus. Reprimanded by his pious and abusive father (played by Meatloaf, an inspired cameo), Black runs away to Hollywood. It is there that he meets Kyle Gass, descends into rock n’ roll degeneracy (they order pizza a lot from a place call “Wake and Bake”), and then logically decides that they need to break into the rock and roll history museum to steal a pick fashioned out a broken piece of the devil’s tooth.
Directed by Liam Lynch, who also helmed “Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic,” the film uses a very different approach than the straight-forward standup routine from his previous work. He allows the movie to take on a free-wheeling meandering vibe, as evidenced by the nearly 10 minute long neon-colored scene, chronicling Black’s mushroom trip fantasy. This type of excess did not make me laugh, but it did make me wish that they would stick to pot jokes (effects of which normally don’t involve neon, or for that matter much action).
There were some things I did like about it. Cameos by Meatloaf, Ben Stiller, Amy Poehler, and Tim Robbins were all very funny. A running joke about “cock-pushups” also had me giggling, I admit, as did the “rock-off” that the group eventually has with the Devil himself. This is mostly the vented angst of a disappointed Tenacious D and Jack Black fan who is worried that what used to be original and hilarious is now generic and mainstream. I walked out of the theatre, not with new found appreciation for the band or their acting chops, but with a fear of mushrooms and a desire to watch “Almost Famous” (a much better movie about running away from home and wanting to rock).