Anvil: The Story of Anvil, by Sacha Gervasi is a film about following your dreams. In 1982, Anvil was a Canadian heavy metal band touring with the likes of Scorpions and Bon Jovi. Then, they dropped right out of the spotlight. For reasons Anvil band members Robb Reiner and Steve “Lips” Kudlow never understood, but you probably will, the band failed to achieve the fame of the other great bands of the time, even while their defining album “Metal on Metal” inspired the generation of metal bands that came after them.
Now in their 50’s, drummer Robb Reiner and singer/guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow- keep Anvil alive. In their practice space, with time stolen from their paying jobs of delivering food or contract work and with time away from their wives and children, they rock daily and dream of the day the music industry might care. And if they’ve adopted old man fanny packs worn over their black jeans and bullet belts, well, they’ve still got long hair.
The film follows the musicians as they prepare to leave their families for a European Tour with a new manager who has a “passion” for metal; and as they record a new album. This is their chance to find people who care – Europe loves Metal. And it’s a flop. No matter how dedicated they might be, and they are actually pretty awesome I say as a layperson, no one comes to their shows, the tour is vastly disorganized, and they can’t get a record company to listen.
“This is Spinal Tap”, only real. These are their real lives. And I can’t fault them – it’s fun to be in a band, it’s awesome to have meaningful friendships that last for decades. But, seriously, dudes, if you actually want your band to make money you probably need to develop some decent business practices. It’s like a morality tale…kids, it’s okay to dream, but for goodness sake, don’t expect success just cause you decided to exist. But that being said – these guys have good lives – love, work, passion, and great friendships. The only thing they lack is fame.
The film itself can run a bit slow for those of us who aren’t fascinated by band psychology. (Robb & “Lips” do still fight with one another like teenage boys). Sacha, the director, is a former Anvil roadie from their first brush with fame, and it shows in his somewhat over-interested direction. But it’s well shot verite-style, I was very impressed with the cinematographer, keeping it together in some tough spots – and the characters are fascinating. They are so earnest and honest. It’s like watching “The Office” – you know where sometimes the show is soooo awkward and real that it makes you squinch in reaction – this film has a lot of that.
On the whole, entertaining and different.
Three of five cheers.
Because it ’tis the season…please be sure to check out “Charlie Brown’s Heavy Metal Christmas.”
And if you want more – check out what’s going on in the metal community in DC at my friend Chris’s Blog – DC Metal.