[19 January 2004]
Thanks to School of Rock, Jack Black has finally succeeded in proving that he can carry a movie by himself, and, courtesy of Elf, Kyle Gass can finally note on his résumé that he’s had a significant role (i.e., more than just a cameo) in a hit film that didn’t involve appearing with Jack Black in some capacity.
You’re no doubt wondering, either to yourself or possibly even aloud, “Yes, these facts are clearly undeniable, and thank you for bringing them to my attention, but how does this affect me, John Q. Moviegoer?”
Glad you asked.
This means that, in 2005, your local movie theater will be offering several daily showings of… wait for it… Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny.
That’s right. Now that it’s been proven that JB and KG can successfully draw folks to movie theaters in droves (okay, mostly JB), some kind soul has green-lighted a full-length Tenacious D movie.
Skeptics might figure it’s destined to suffer the same fate as Mr. Show‘s Run Ronnie Run (i.e., to go straight to video, but not before spending a lengthy period in limbo where fans debate how great it is, how the corporate suits “just don’t get it” and that’s why it hasn’t been released, even as its creators assure them that, no, really, it’s because it just isn’t actually very good).
Those fools, however, clearly aren’t familiar with the power of the D.
They can, however, be easily indoctrinated and turn into full-fledged D-ciples with the help of the new Epic Records 2-DVD set, Tenacious D: The Complete Masterworks.
But, first, a warning.
If you’re a parent who’s taken your kid to the family-friendly School of Rock and you’re thinking, “Hey, I see an artist’s rendition of Jack Black on the cover of this DVD, so I’ll bet this Tenacious D thing would be the perfect Christmas present for little Jimmy or little Mary”...?
Put. The. DVD. Down.
Tenacious D may be a lot of things, but one thing they most certainly are not is kid-friendly.
Trying to describe Tenacious D to those who’ve not previously experienced them is a real challenge. On the surface, there’s a whole lot of cursing and single-entendre sex jokes (most blatant example: their song “F*ck Her Gently”) that’s kinda hard to get past if you don’t really go in for that sort of thing. The songs, however, are consistently catchy and, in many cases, they don’t involve obscenities, instead playing on the humor inherent in rock pomposity, “Wonderboy” and “Dio” being two instances that leap immediately to mind.
Tenacious D began life when Jack Black and Kyle Gass started playing guitar together in Kyle’s apartment in Los Angeles. From there, they played their first gig in 1994 at Al’s Bar; it consisted of just one song, “Tribute”, which was about “the best song in the world”, even though their song didn’t actually sound anything like that song.
From there, they were discovered by David Cross, who, with his Mr. Show compatriot, Bob Odenkirk, helped propel Tenacious D to official cult status by hooking them up with their very own HBO show. The combination of premium cable channel exposure combined with tours of the world and elsewhere led to… well, still cult status, but a much bigger cult.
For proof, witness the concert on the first disc of The Complete Masterworks, where the band performs at Brixton Academy in London to a crowd of approximately 4700 people, most of whom can be heard singing every word along with the band. As the band opens with a cover of Queen’s “Flash’s Theme”, segueing into their own “Wonderboy”, it becomes obvious that both Black and Gass are extremely competent musicians. Given that the band’s album features work from musicians like Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Steve McDonald (Redd Kross), Page McConnell (Phish), and Warren Fitzgerald (the Vandals), plus production from the Dust Brothers, this wouldn’t necessarily be a given for anyone who’d never seen the band perform live, but the performance on the DVD is clearly by just these two guys with their acoustic guitars, and they undoubtedly know how to play them quite well. In addition to the concert, Disc 1 also includes all six episodes of the aforementioned HBO show.
Disc 2 includes footage of the band recording their self-titled album, three television appearances promoting it (including a performance of “Friendship” from Crank Yankers where the D have been transmuted into floppy puppet form and spend pretty much the entire song naked, complete with floppy puppet genitalia), music videos for “Tribute” and “Wonderboy” (as well as making-of documentaries for each), a documentary of the band on the road, and three short films which have been shown during their live shows. (The video for “Tribute”, the road documentary, and the short films were all directed by Liam Lynch, who, in addition to his work on MTV’s Sifl ‘N’ Ollie, also scored a minor hit this year with “United States of Whatever”.) The short films, however, require a great deal of endurance to get through without wincing; the first two prominently feature the expulsion of spermatozoa, and the third, entitled “Butt Baby”, starts innocently enough (you know your standards have dropped when a purported LSD trip can be defined as “innocent”), then devolves into a very grotesque sequence involving Kyle giving birth from the orifice referenced in the title.
Certainly, the title of the collection is accurate; this is as complete a collection of the band’s material as you’re likely to find anywhere, which is no doubt why it premiered at #2 on Billboard‘s Music Video chart and has already been certified platinum. There are even a few easter eggs scattered throughout the two discs, including the band’s promos for MTV’s The Osbournes.
If this review has frightened or disturbed you in any way, then, for the sake of your loved ones and, indeed, your moral fiber, steer far clear of this DVD.
If, however, you’ve had the privilege of hearing or seeing Tenacious D in any capacity in the past and you felt like it was a blessing rather than a curse, The Complete Masterworks should unquestionably be on your gift list.