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With: Steve 'Lips' Kudlow, Robb Reiner, Tiziana Arrigoni, Kevin Goocher, Glenn Gyorffy, William Howell, Lemmy, Slash, Chris Tsangarides, Lars Ulrich
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Sacha Gervasi
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 89
Date: 01/18/2008

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2009)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Metal on Metal

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This documentary about a marginalized heavy metal band has so many parallels to This Is Spinal Tap -- including a trip to the real Stonehenge -- that it's eerie. Then, before long, it moves into more psychological, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster territory. But just before it flies off into parody, it becomes something quite unexpectedly moving. In the early 1980s, the Canadian band Anvil played alongside some of the genre's top selling acts, but while the Scorpions, Whitesnake and others went on to sell millions of records, Anvil wallowed in obscurity. Later, bands like Metallica and Megadeth acknowledged the influence of Anvil in their own speed-metal sound. Unbeknownst to almost anyone, Anvil continued to pump out albums, rarely stretching beyond their small group of hardcore fans (mostly Japanese). This documentary captures them on a rather pathetic whirlwind European tour, and in the process of recording their thirteenth album, This Is Thirteen. We meet lead singer and guitarist Steve 'Lips' Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner, who have been friends since their early teens and are now on the wrong side of fifty. Lips has a kind of appealing goofy quality, with a look of bright optimism on his face, even when he goes to his day job as delivery man. Over the course of the film, these two fight and make up more than once, and their deep bonds are palpable. Their tragedies are many and their triumphs are small and few, but you'll feel every one of them. Ironically, this documentary, directed by a longtime fan Sacha Gervasi, will probably win the band more new fans than all the touring and records of the past two decades. (See Anvil's official page and the official movie page for more info.)

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