The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Monday, November 27, 2006 - 5A
'Tenacious' full of
Denzel: too tough for directions.
There and back again
'DEJA VU' REVISITS TERRORISM-THRILLER FORMULA
By ELIE ZWIEBEL
Daily Arts Writer
Farts and the munchies. Essen-
tially, if you don't find either of
struggle to Tenacious D:
find "Tena- The Pick of
cious D: The Destiny
Pick of Des- Athe
tiny" funny in Showcase and
the least. Quality 16
In their cin-
ematic debut, Non Line
the band Tenacious D - comprised
of Jack Black ("Nacho Libre") and
Kyle Gass ("Elf") - revels in good
old-fashioned stoner comedy, a
genre of fart funnies, poop jokes,
drug gags and other primitive
laughs we should have left behind
in high school.
Directed by Liam Lynch ("Sarah
Silverman: Jesus is Magic"), "Pick
of Destiny" chronicles the ficti-
tious rise of Tenacious D as they
overcome social obstacles and
childhoods filled with ridicule and
restrictions. After the band unites
and recognizes they're rock'n'roll's
next evolutionary step, they dis-
cover the only way they can truly
realize their rock potential is to
acquire the legendary Pick of Des-
tiny, a piece of thrash machinery
made from the tooth of Satan him-
self (to date it has served such leg-
ends as Pete Townsend and Eddie
The plot is predictably ridicu-
lous. Who would actually expect
a cohesive plot from a movie star-
ring and produced by a rock band
that prides itself on self-effacing
humor? Black and Gass reap their
millions in the same way William
Shatner now does: making fun of
Instead of hoping for any sem-
blance of a plot (see: "School of
Rock"), go in expecting a series of
brief gags and immature one-lin-
ers. "Pick of Destiny" even opens
with a (literal) rip on Dolby Digital
Surround Sound, as cartoon ver-
sions of KG and JB fart loud enough
to make every seat in the theater
vibrate, having smoked a ton of pot
with a cheese burrito for dessert.
Three letters appear with a brief
explanation: "THC. The audience
So were Tenacious D and direc-
tor Liam Lynch when they wrote
this epic disaster.
Enlisting the inexperienced
Lynch as director was perhaps the
D's biggest mistake. While he did
direct their short-lived television
show about - what else - them-
selves, Lynch doesn't add any-
By HYATT MICHAELS
Daily Arts Writer
Imagine a world where the victims of terrorist
attacks could be rescued several days after their
demise. Director Tony
Scott ("Man on Fire") does ***
just that with his time- ,,
traveling thriller "Deja Deja Vu
Vu," a popcorn flick that At the
pushes logic to the extreme Showcase and
as it combines terrorism, Quality 16
espionage and an overdose Touchstone
of Hollywood convention
to grand effect.
In the terrorist-thriller tradition of Bruce Wil-
lis's "Die Hard" (and even Steven Segal's "Under
Siege"), "Deja Vu" follows pudgy bombing expert
Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington, "Training
Day"), who's hired to help the FBI track down the
perpetrators of a gruesome ferry bombing.
Based on this it might seem easy to dismiss
this as any standard thriller, but Scott adds
enough dry humor and clever gadgetry to keep
his audience reasonably interested through the
film's running time.
Take the top-secret monitoring device (i.e.
time machine) the FBI introduces to Carlin -
satellite technology with the ability to peer into
the past. The FBI uses the monitoring device to
track down criminals, but there's a catch: It can
only see four days into the past, so we're forced to
bite our nails as the clues build up.
"Deja Vu" quickly devolves into the usual cat-
and-mouse game of policemen shoot-'em-ups,
and actually has very little to do with the phe-
nomena of dejn vu - in fact, it's never even men-
tioned. Carlin becomes more concerned with
solving the murder of a beautiful woman (Paula
Patton, "Idlewild") whose death may be linked to
the Ferry bombing.
As the film moves from twist to twist, it
competently builds suspense with Tony Scott's
usual wall-to-wall camera tricks and Michael
Bay-esque car-chase sequences, although the
unnecessary technical dialogue is saved by spot-
on supporting-cast performances by comic relief
Adam Goldberg ("Saving Private Ryan") and an
underused Val Kilmer ("Alexander") - not to
mention the ferry bomber, who turns out to be
none other than Jesus himself (Jim Caviezel,
"The Passion of the Christ").
Most of the credit for the film's success goes
to Denzel's cool-as-ice performance. Rather than
boring us with pointless melodramatics through
the film's over-the-top tantrums, he takes the
material for the popcorn fantasy it is, riding the
dialogue with the seasoned comfort of a Holly-
wood veteran. Washington chews his lines like
a modern day Bogart, equal parts everyman and
superhero. The aging star, clearly in the twilight
of his sexiest-man-alive days, enters every scene
Val Kilmer - he's Tony Scott's go-to supporting
actor, the only believable part of "Tombstone" and
one oftthe big screen's best Batmen. Before you see
him next as a singing Moses in "The Ten Command-
ments: The Musical" (not kidding), catch up on his
other ass-kicking roles in these action thrillers:
"Top Gun"1986) - Asflight school bully Ice, Kilmer's
toothy chomp at hotshot Tom Cruise adds upto one of
the most memorable movie scenes to everltake place ina
"Heat"(1995) - Leave the sceenry-chewing to old pros
Pacino and DeNiro. Val plays quiet and deadly as a hench-
man in Michael Mann's LA-set action epic.
"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"(2005)- Val isgay buddy cop to
a twitchy Robert Downey Jr. in a winningtaction satiretfrom
"Lethal Weapon" scribe Shane Black.
with a swagger, looking confident even when the
film enters into a string of impossibilities during
its final act.
With the lengthy running time of 128 minutes,
overabundant jump cuts and a hackneyed plot,
"Ddji Vu" is hardly a dramatic leap from Tony
Scott's abominable last feature, "Domino," but it
succeeds primarily because it has what the for-
mer lacked: a coherent plot and confident star.
courtesy of New Line
"Fooled you! We're not actually actors!"
thing to Black and Gass's patented
schtick aside from the ability to
frame a shot. The rest of Tenacious
D's hiring capitalizes equally on
their off-screen friendships: Colin
Hanks ("Orange County") appears
as a drunk at a frat party, Tim Rob-
bins (from "Mystic River" and who
deserve better) is a creepy stranger
guiding JB on his journey and Ron-
nie James Dio of Black Sabbath
shows up to inspire a young Jack
Black. Even Ben Stiller ("Zoolan-
der") gets a cameo.
The penultimate rock star guest
appearance comes with the closing
scenes as Jack and Kyle meet their
old foe, Satan. As a gleeful half-goat
devil, Dave Grohl, lead singer of the
Foo Fighters and former Nirvana
drummer, reprises the role he made
his own in the D's earlier skits and
stoner flick red-
eyed and hungry.
music videos. Then there's also
Meatloaf ("Fight Club") as Black's
oppressive father, who provides
one of the more ridiculous lines
in the movie (delivered, as is most
dialogue in this semi-rock opera,
in song): "I should have used a con-
Tenacious D is a joke, both
praising rock and demeaning the
rock star. But they are rock stars
themselves, and "Pick of Destiny"
is more about ridiculous slapstick
than music.It would be a disservice
to anyone even slightly anticipat-
ing to watch this movie if I did not
mention the presence of one com-
pletely outlandish scene involving
shrooms and Sasquatch. In a world
where farts and mind-expand-
ing drugs will always be funny to
at least some of us, Tenacious D's
ludicrousness knows no bounds.
Bending genders in Paris circa 1930
By BLAKE GOBLE toria" is a musical that takes place
Daily Arts Writer in the city's famed nightclubs
- a scene that, while satiating, is
Cross-gender comedy has been unprofitable for many talented
dressed to death courtesy of previ- and hopeful people. Victoria (Julie
ousefforts:There Andrews, "The Princess Diaries")
are the classic is among them, a desperate and
screwball efforts Victora starving soprano with a set of
like "Some Like T pipes more than capable of shat-
It Hot" and Toniht at cering glass.
"Tootsie" and 7 'm. Her friend Carroll "Toddy"
the overlong Pud $s,5 Todd (Robert Preston, "The Last
penis joke that Starfighter"), a middle-aged caba-
was "Sorority At The Michigan ret performer, is also unemployed,
Boys." Amid all having just been fired for starting
the swapped clothes, kooky setups a fight.
and barely passing makeup, where The two are crass, witty and
exactly does 1982's "Victor/Victo- totally engaging. Seldom does a
ria" fit in? duo make for such great banter
Set in 1930s Paris, "Victor/Vic- and a snap-crackle-pop finesse
on screen - it's no small wonder ing to be a man masquerading as a
both Andrews and Preston went woman. Don't worry yourself over
on to be Oscar-nominated. Even- that one. The convolution is what
tually, out of their personal chaos makes the movie fun.
comes creation. After a fight in "Victor/Victoria" stays together
thanks to the dynamic direction
of Blake Edwards ("A Shot in the
Julie Andrews Dark"), Julie Andrews's husband.
Remember great comedies like
cross-dresses "The Pink Panther," "The Great
Race," "Breakfast At Tiffany's" and
through Paris. "10"? All Edwards. He's a legend of
the comic genre, recently recog-
nized by the Academy Awards for
his life's work.
some men's clothing, Toddy turns "Victor/Victoria" is a grand bit
Victoria into Victor, a drag-diva of folly easy to enjoy. If you're
creation that becomes into a stage looking for a good laugh, a good
sensation. song and some good cross-dress-
Victoria is a woman pretend- ing, look no further.
Wanna Play Doctor?
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