There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Jack Black. Musicals. Acquired tastes, both—and also the defining components of Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny. But has any Andrew Lloyd Webber character ever, say, deactivated security lasers with his penis? Unless your aversion to Black is homicide-inducing, his manic shtick is kept palatable in this fictional telling of “acoustic-metal” duo Tenacious D’s humble beginnings. Co-written by Black, D partner Kyle Gass, and director Liam Lynch, Pick of Destiny imagines JB (Black, with the terrific Troy Gentile playing him as a tubby, pointy-eyebrowed kid) as the sheltered son of a religious father (a perfectly cast Meat Loaf) who believes rock to be the devil’s music. So JB runs off to California and becomes the naive protégé of KG (Gass), a boardwalk busker and clear loser who nonetheless dazzles JB with his mediocre fingerpicking and makes the youngster believe he’s a star. A few cock push-ups (yeah, you read that right) and concert simulations later, the lie is exposed—but then so are their ass cheeks, an unveiling that most amusingly proves they were fated to rawk together. Their jam sessions blow, and a series of Rolling Stone covers reveal why: The key to musical success is actually a pick. The swift-moving Pick of Destiny is pure silliness (which is, fine though the line may be, different than stupidity). Black and Gass are mostly childlike and bumbling in their characters’ wide-eyed quest for rock godness—and even give their movie a friendship-first message highlighted by the ballad “Dude (I Totally Miss You).” Cameos include Tim Robbins (the Oscar winner plays a one-legged dirtbag), Dave Grohl (the Foo Fighter, more appropriately, is a musically sick Satan with a killer drum set), and, uh, Sasquatch. But it’s the random bursts of song that make the whole thing sing: From wee JB’s debut performance for his family (a histrionic hard-strummer laden with expletives) to the duo’s battle with Beelzebub (“Fuck!/The demon code prevents me/From declining a rock-off challenge!”), The Pick of Destiny’s compositions are as goofy and well-timed as Black’s expressions. Call it Antichrist Superstar.