I must declare before I utter one word of critique about this movie that my words about Jack Black and Kyle Gass must be taken with the proverbial ‘grain of salt’. You see, I’m what the Brits refer to as ‘a mental Tenacious D fan’. I bought the first album and it still gets run on the iPod. Bought the DVD too. I wasn’t head over heels for all of the HBO Specials, but there was always something strangely melodic and incredibly funny when watching the D. As a matter of fact, a good friend of mine (who I think might have even helped to get me on the D’s bandwagon even more than I was) and I used to pass the time while we were doing time in office cubicles singing songs like ‘Sasquatch’, ‘Kyle took a Bullet For Me’ and ‘With Karate I’ll Kick Your Ass’. So with that said, here are my thoughts. (And it’s not what you might expect.)
I had the highest expectations when I heard that there was going to be a Tenacious D movie. All sorts of images of in-jokes and Jack Black neurotic silliness came into my head as I eagerly awaited for the films release. The first talk I heard of a D movie was in 2004. Then Jack Black got on the fast track to Hollywood and the project kept getting pushed back. By the time the actual film was done, expectations were high among fans of the D and non-fans alike. Those who know about them know how funny they can be. And those who’ve heard so much about how rad they were would use the film as an opportunity to catch up. Sadly, this film is a poor representation of the best that the D has to offer.
It’s funny – one of the trailers at the beginning of the DVD is for Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. I say it’s funny, because as surprisingly good as that film was, the D movie could have used more of the silliness that the “Harold and Kumar film” offered. There are just not enough knee-slappingly funny moments in the movie. I laughed out loud once (during a scene with Jack hallucinating on mushrooms). And the laughs are there — kinda. But it’s just not worthy of a full length Tenacious D film feature. This is an o.k. effort. It’s very much like a piecing together of all of the Tenacious D lore into one film with a few new facts sprinkled in — and which can only be appreciated by those who already care. And that’s just the thing that’s wrong with this movie. It makes an effort to appeal to the hardcore, but at the same time it presents itself as an easily-accessible view into the fictional origin of the band. In seeking to offer something special to both crowds, it succeeds at doing neither and for me was a pretty big disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some funny moments here. But the whole story is very shallow and still doesn’t manage to get the laughs that it should. If you’re going to go low brow, make sure that you get folks laughing in the process.
I think Jack Black is a great comedic actor. He’s not even touched tip of where his potential can take him. Sadly, almost every effort I’ve seen him in has left me with my head hanging down, wondering why the appeal that I see in informal TV appearances and other non-screen roles doesn’t translate to the big screen.
For Tenacious D fans, this film will give you some enjoyment. Don’t expect too much, but you’ll dig it. At the same time, I almost want to shield this movie from Tenacious D virgins. There are other ways to find out about the D. This isn’t one of the best ways. It’s almost like someone watching the first Star Trek movie to try and get and understanding of why fans love Star Trek. The first movie was definitely not the best effort (or so I’ve been told.) On the contrary, South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut doesn’t only introduce you to the characters, but it’s so well done that it offers something to hardcore fans and appeals to non-fans alike.
Alas, Kyle and Jack — twas a disservice that thou hast done to the legend of Two Kings. Here’s looking forward to better, perhaps less exhaustive and lower-budgeted efforts down the road. Maybe a direct to DVD short or another HBO special. Just don’t expect much from the D here. <Heavy, heavy sigh.>
If you really wanna know what the “D” is all about, check this out. This is how they should be remembered.