Review

Anvil! The Story of Anvil Review

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Apr 10, 2009 | 11:48am EDT

WHAT IT’S ABOUT?

At the age of 14 two Canadian buddies Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner (ironically no relation to the This Is Spinal Tap director) made a blood pact to rock together for the rest of their lives. And these guys really mean it. Finding early success in 1982 with their highly influential first album Metal On Metal they made an impact on such major names as Metallica Slayer and Anthrax who all went on to superstardom while these guys and their band Anvil sadly went nowhere fast. This documentary picks up their lives now two guys in their fifties who try for one last great shot at eternal fame as they take time off their menial day jobs to go on a disastrous and mis-managed European tour and try and regain the promise they once had in the heavy metal industry.

WHO’S IN IT?

Filmmaker Sacha Gervasi’s enormously entertaining account of the musical struggles of these two rock ‘n’roll dreamers is augmented with interviews with their wives mothers kids additional family members band mates and such “rivals” as Lars Ulrich Lemmy Scott Ian  Slash and Tom Araya. Mainly it’s anchored by the energetic and ever-hopeful lead singer “Lips ” whose emotional outburst and undying enthusiasm drive the docu’s heart. The interviews with the women behind their men can be as humorous as they are heartbreaking and say a lot about just what makes these guys keep plugging away against all odds.

WHAT’S GOOD?

Gervasi sets out to show a couple of guys who just won’t give up even though time and the music business have clearly passed them by. What he gets on film is the spirit of some aging rockers who still hear the music and whose lives are still dictated by the desire to get on stage and let it rip. It’s funny sad and revealing — especially in a meeting they manage to wrangle with a major record label executive.

WHAT’S BAD?

If you are not into metal you might not share the passion of Anvil — so be warned. But even if this kind of music isn’t in your iPod the universal story of a couple of old souls trying to recapture an elusive moment in the sun is irresistible.

FAVORITE SCENE:

A confrontation with the owners of a run-down European bar where Anvil was booked is raw painfully funny and a perfect demonstration of why this band never made it big.

BEST USE OF EXPLETIVES TO SUM UP A DREAM:

Lips: “Here we sit in our f--king fifties and man we’re gonna be f--king rock stars. It’s a f--king dream but I’m gonna make it come true!”

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