The first few minutes here are something to behold: a four-minute rock opera cranked to 11. A doughy young boy with dirty-mop locks laments his tragic plight: He's stuck in Kickapoo with "a humble family, religious through and through," that just doesn't get his tasty jams. The kid struts into the kitchen and starts singing, "If you fuck with me, I shall fuck you, too." His old man (Meat Loaf, nice) leaps from the table to take the boy over bended knee for a good beltin'. The boy, weeping and singing with Jack Black's voice, prays to his poster of Ronnie James Dio. The Ozzy Osbourne sub sings back, naturally, demanding the child embrace his inner demons and run away from his nowhere town to form "the world's most awesome band." Guitar in tow, the boy leaps from his window and escapes into the night; where he'll land, only Dio knows.
Oh, if only the movie had the balls to keep up its rock-opera facade. Alas, the movie straightens up and flattens out. It winds up as just another sketch extended past the point of no return. That we're even discussing a Tenacious D movie more than a decade after Black and Kyle Gass formed their heavy-metal homage/parody suggests they're too late to their own party.
The plot here, such as it is, recounts Black and Gass' first meeting and the origins of the name Tenacious D. In short, Gass (a straight man trying way too hard to keep up with Black) and Black (just trying way too hard) attempt to write the greatest song in the world, can't, realize they need the devil's knocked-out tooth to accomplish such a feat, and go looking for it at a rock and roll museum. Along the way, they encounter Ben Stiller as a Guitar Center salesman who looks like ashtrays smell, Tim Robbins as a German missing a leg, John C. Reilly as Bigfoot, and Amy Poehler as a waitress with a black eye. By the time they get to the protracted car chase scene, you'll wonder if Gass and Black are on a mission from God or Satan—who, d'oh, finally shows up in the form of Foo Fighter Dave Grohl.
Tenacious D is utterly harmless and totally pointless. Black and Gass have been at this so long that their dirty little joke has all the punch of a Catskills routine. ROBERT WILONSKY