Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)

Sacha Gervasi


The bare outline of this doc is going to sound awfully familiar: Long-haired, middle-aged heavy-metal rockers with a penchant for talking in the most shopworn clichés face a tour booked by an incompetent manager. They play in grungy basement bars in Eastern Europe, with audiences only slightly larger than the band. Every new development on their big tour is just another humiliation. Um, This Is Spinal Tap, anyone?  Nope, this is Anvil, a real Canadian heavy-metal band that was on the brink of superstardom in the early 1980s. Though it was admired by everyone who’s anyone in metal (Lemmy, Slash and Lars Ulrich all testify in the doc), things fizzled. After some badly produced albums and shows in smaller and smaller venues, they should have given up and moved on with their lives. Nope. Guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner (talk about serendipitous names) have persevered. They soldier on, chasing the rock & roll dream long after most sane people would have awoken.  The amazing thing about this doc is that it doesn’t stoop to mockery. Yes, there are moments when you can’t help but laugh at their bad luck and bad decisions (and their awful taste in haircuts). But Gervasi gently takes us from laughing to (we’ll admit it) crying a bit as these two guys, friends and kindred spirits since the age of 14, jam and laugh and fight and party and generally embody the spirit of rock, for better or worse.


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