Anvil! The Story Of Anvil Review

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Canadian rockers Anvil played a key role in the birth of speed metal, inspiring the likes of Metallica, Anthrax and Guns N’ Roses, yet have themselves been cruelly overlooked by fame for more than 30 years. But, while working day jobs and entering their f


Like that toweringly famous mockumentary, The Story Of Anvil contains a disastrous trans-continental tour (managed by a band girlfriend, no less). Both films culminate with a gig in . Hell, the drummer’s name is Robb Reiner. It’s all some elaborate, viral-marketed hoax, right? Wrong. Anvil are the real deal, and that you haven’t heard of them is exactly the point. Fame and fortune have eluded long-time bandmates, guitarist and vocalist Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow, and drummer Reiner (despite impressive testimonials here from the likes of Metallica and Motörhead), but amid the drudgery of day jobs and the disappointment of setbacks they never gave up.

So far, so typical documentary about wishfulfilment and ‘living the dream’, which you’d expect from the guy who wrote The Terminal, but Sacha Gervasi has found something more, and he mines a very rich vein for all it’s worth. How far would you go — and we’re talking about the harsh, real world here, not Hollywood hypothetical — to achieve your life goals? How much time and money would you spend? How much rejection could you take? What would you put your family through? The Story Of Anvil observes it all with excruciating (and often hilarious) honesty: the ramshackle European tour, getting their 13th album recorded, infighting, humiliation, outright extortion. But they keep clinging to hope, always believing that the breakthrough is just around the next corner.

It certainly helps that Gervasi is himself a hardcore fan (he roadied for the band in the mid-’80s). His devotion allows us access to Anvil’s most private and often painful moments, but it also ensures that his film rises above mere cinematic rubbernecking to tell an amazing story about optimism, limits and the underside of the rock ’n’ roll dream. Much more than a rockumentary, this will have you questioning whether anyone should ever abandon their dreams. Like life, it isn’t all laughs — but it mostly is, and it makes for a hell of a movie. Yes, this is Spinal Tap — and then some.

The lyrics to AC/DC’s Long Way To The Top were never more appropriate. Anvil! is exactly what’s needed to slap the recent rash of doomsayer documentaries in the face — preferably with a studded, fingerless leather glove.