So Jack Black has cashed in on his success by getting someone to pony up the bucks for an ego project, “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny,” a comic fabrication about how he and Kyle Gass formed their musical duo.
Only the most tenacious, diehardiest Tenacious D fans could love “Pick of Destiny,” an inside joke that runs out of laughs five minutes in yet lingers through an hour and a half of self-satisfied mugging that’s irritating.
Director Liam Lynch, a Black and Gass pal who has worked with them on Tenacious D short films and a DVD release by the duo, shares screenwriting credit with the two stars.
What they came up with is no more trite than, say, “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” but that musical odyssey offered genuine and consistent mainstream laughs.
“Pick of Destiny” opens with promise in an amusing scene involving the rebellious young Black (Troy Gentile, who also played his young incarnation in “Nacho Libre”) in an rock-opera sing-off against his dad (Meat Loaf) over the boy’s love of the foul rock sound.
Black, known here as “JB,” leaves home, wandering the country in search of his destiny, eventually arriving with guitar on his back in Hollywood, where he falls in with street musician KG (Gass).
After some initial growing pains, they form Tenacious D, their self-proclaimed greatest band on Earth, and try their hand at an open-mike night, where their odd, manic duet goes over like stale beer.
From rock magazines, they notice that all the great strummers use the same devilish guitar pick. They learn from a guitar-store clerk (played in a cameo by a surprise guest who’ll extract a chuckle or two from viewers) that the pick was fashioned from a little nugget of Satan’s anatomy left behind in a battle with mortals centuries earlier.
Devil music. Rock ’n’ roll. Finally, it all makes sense.
JB and KG embark on a quest to retrieve the pick and use it to win a talent contest that will start them on the path toward rock godhood.
It’s all pure goofs and silliness, but even goofs and silliness need to be funny. This isn’t.
The movie features cameos from other friends and associates of Tenacious D, including Black’s occasional co-star Colin Hanks and heavy-metal veteran Ronnie James Dio.
Black and Gass, who met as members of Tim Robbins’ Actors Gang troupe, enlisted their old mentor to play a gnarly, menacing stranger also in search of the pick of destiny. It’s a mostly weird and empty part for Robbins, though he does provide one of the movie’s few good laughs toward the end.
The playful rambles of Tenacious D’s music occasionally enliven the movie, but the personae of JB and KG are so cartoonishly dumb and boorish, it’s hard to relate to them as much more than flat characters in a mediocre bit of sketch comedy.
That’s essentially what “Pick of Destiny” is — a comedy sketch, painfully prolonged to movie length.