Whether you've become familiar with "mock rock" outfit Tenacious D during their HBO series (airing sporadically from 1997-2000), their full-length debut album (2001) or the two-disc Complete Masterworks DVD (2003), they're certainly an easy act to remember. Comprised of actors / musicians Jack Black (High Fidelity, Mars Attacks!) and Kyle Gass (Jacob's Ladder, Elf), this two-man supergroup dubbed itself "The Greatest Band in the World" soon after its formation in the mid 1990s. Their goofy, lowbrow lyrics may trick casual fans into thinking "The D" is purely a joke act---and to be fair, nearly all of their material is completely tongue-in-cheek---but make no mistake about it, Black (AKA "JB" or "Jables") and Gass (AKA "KG" or "Rage Kage") are both talented musicians, songwriters and performers. Remember: great satire is only possible if you actually respect and understand the source material. Here's looking at you, Date Movie.
Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006) brings the band's legacy to the big screen; luckily, it's everything you'd expect it to be: lowbrow, self-assured and full of catchy hooks. In no small part, it serves as a travelogue of The D's origin story and early adventures...with plenty of details embellished, of course. Our story begins as young JB (Troy Gentile, who also portrayed a young Black in Nacho Libre) grows increasingly frustrated with his Bible Belt parents and their anti-rock ways; seeking advice from Black Sabbath's Ronnie James Dio (below left), JB begins a journey to find his future partner-in-crime. Our heroes finally meet in Venice Beach and eventually begin their training while focusing their sights on The Pick of Destiny, an all-powerful guitar pick made of Satan's own tooth.
Tucked inside the film's free-wheeling, musically-charged exterior, however, is a fairly basic road trip story that sees our heroes looking to score rent money. They've got to rescue The Pick from the guarded interior of Sacramento's Rock & Roll Museum---but it's really not the pick itself that they're seeking, it's the success that will hopefully follow. Through hallucinations, a daring heist, a car chase, the Valley of the Shadow of Death and a "rock-off" with Beelzeboss himself, The D take their schtick one step farther with a bigger budget, a few recycled gags...and, of course, non-stock rocking. Part Bill & Ted, part Blues Brothers and part Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, The Pick of Destiny isn't entirely original but it is pretty darn entertaining. If you've heard their material, it shouldn't be a surprise.
Directed and co-written by Liam Lynch (Jesus Is Magic, TV's Sifl & Olly), The Pick of Destiny plays its tarot cards right during most of the 94-minute running time. The episodic pacing is fairly standard for a road movie, hitting plenty of right notes early and keeping the laughs coming throughout. Featuring appearances by famed rockers Ronnie James Dio, Meat Loaf and Dave Grohl as well as longtime D pals Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller and others, it should keep plenty of die-hard fans happy without (hopefully) scaring off too many outsiders. Though it didn't exactly set the box office on fire last November, The Pick of Destiny is a predicable yet satisfying comedy that doesn't take itself too seriously.
Presented on DVD by New Line Home Entertainment (and as part of their Platinum Series line, no less), you'd never suspect The Pick of Destiny tanked by what we get here. Fans can look forward to an excellent technical presentation, while a host of entertaining extras provide plenty of support. All things considered, it's a well-rounded package that does the film plenty of face-melting justice. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and enhanced for widescreen displays, The Pick of Destiny looks surprisingly good from start to finish. The film's warm color palette appears consistent and natural, black levels are solid and no major digital problems (edge enhancement and pixellation, for example) are on display. Long story short: comedies usually don't look this strong, so fans should be pleased with New Line's respectable efforts.
The audio is presented in robust Dolby 5.1 Surround EX and DTS-ES 6.1 mixes (as well as a more modest 2.0 track), all of which pass with flying colors. Obviously, such a musically-driven effort needs to have plenty of power behind it; luckily, all the channels are put to good use on many occasions. The film's non-stop dialogue is clean and clear throughout, while never fighting for attention during the frequent sonic assaults. Optional English and Spanish subtitles, as well as Closed Captioning support, are available during the main feature.
Tying in nicely is a Behind-the-Scenes Documentary (23:08, below left); it's a fairly standard featurette in most respects, touching on the film's pre-production, band history, cast, script and so on. The charisma of Black and Gass help to speed things along nicely, while comments from crew members and cast are also appreciated.
Also included is a collection of Deleted & Extended Scenes (16 clips with optional intro by director Liam Lynch, 30:09 total), including a longer version of the car chase, an alternate ending and a few minutes of outtakes. Everything here is worth checking out at least once, but it's easy to see why some of it didn't make the final cut.
Fans can also look forward to a small chunk of Studio Footage (21:34) featuring The D and composer John King goofing around in the studio...and occasionally laying down a few tracks, slowly but surely. Also here is a Music Video (2:25) for the title track, as well as a brief Featurette (4:44, above right) covering the music video's production; both are short and to the point, featuring additional comments by director Lynch and a few extras.
Closing things out is a handy Jump To A Song feature, allowing direct access to any of the film's 12 major music cues (including a "Play All" option), as well as the film's Theatrical Trailer (1:31) and Teaser Trailer (1:46). Also included is a handful of Sneak Peeks at current and upcoming New Line DVD releases, including Pan's Labyrinth.
All extras are presented in anamorphic widescreen and most include optional English subtitles. Since most major studios don't go the extra mile, it makes The Pick of Destiny seem that much more polished in comparison.
Created with die-hard D fans in mind, The Pick of Destiny successfully blends great music, goofy antics and a light-hearted story with energy to spare. That's not to say that newcomers won't enjoy themselves, but it's probably a good idea to get acquainted before jumping right in. Those who enjoyed the film theatrically should enjoy New Line's DVD package, equipped with an excellent technical presentation and a goblet full of entertaining extras. Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny may be a one-note song full of lowbrow humor, but darned if it isn't catchy. Highly Recommended.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, second-guessing himself and writing things in third person.