Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Posted by schnolis on April 24th, 2009 filed in Reviews

Anvil! The Story of AnvilThe coincidences that relate the Anvil! The Story of Anvil to This is Spinal Tap are so abundant that I cannot completely shed my skepticism. Robb Reiner (the Drummer) has the same name as the director of Spinal Tap. The bands are nearly mirror images of each other, both releasing a string of albums over many years in near anonymity. The trip to Stonehenge. The dial that goes to 11. Playing guitar with a dildo. The awful management and lack of professionalism across the board. It’s possible it’s all real but made to remind us of Tap. It’s also possible this is a setup. In the age of the internet, there’s very little that cannot be setup to seem real.

All that said, Anvil! The Story of Anvil works whether the story is true or just an elaborate fabrication. The documentary is about the band Anvil, which is really two Canadian guys: Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner. They were a very early heavy metal band with a big sound and a stage presence imitated, or so we’re told, by many of the big bands that would follow after them, like Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax. Unlike those other groups, though, Anvil didn’t have the commercial or popular success. They toiled away in obscurity, releasing albums periodically but unable to quit the menial day jobs.

The movie begins roughly when the band members are 50 years old, but they haven’t quit. They embark on a European tour that ends up a disaster. They play to empty houses, miss their trains, fight with club owners over pay, and have a generally lousy time. When that fails they turn to recording a new album. And to raise the $20,000 they need to do that requires some serious begging and pleading. And when they try to pitch the albums to the record studios, the disappointment hits home again.

But this documentary is a success because of the people in it. Lips and Robb are best friends. Sure, they disagree and fight; all good friends do. Their passion for making good music and dedication to the life of artists is what makes them so likable. They never let their failures keep them down for long. It is this determination to succeed, to achieve their dream of becoming successful rock stars, that allows us to admire them.

What I liked: The dream-like quality of the film. These guys are so genuine and passionate about their dream. It’s inspiring.

What I disliked: Not knowing whether to believe the story or not. While I don’t think it matters one way or another, because I liked it so much, some of the similarities are just too astounding to ignore.

Rating: 8 of 10

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