David’s Review of Anvil! The Story of Anvil

2 Oct

Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a documentary about an 80’s metal band that never made it quite as big as they should have.  The film starts with a look at a tour Anvil did in 1984 in Japan with several other bands that all became incredibly famous (Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Etc.).  This is followed by clips of Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Lemmy (Motorhead), and Lars Ulrich (Metallica) explaining how much of an influence Anvil had on the metal music world.  They basically say that metal would never have reached the point it is at now without Anvil.  They would not be the famous rock stars they are without having seen Anvil do the things they did.  Steve “Lips” Kudlow (lead vocals and guitar) then gives us a tour of his present job at a children’s catering company.  That sets the tone for the rest of the movie.anvil

The tale we see in Anvil! The Story of Anvil is made up of what all great legends are made of.  It is tragic, hopeful, depressing, exciting, hilarious, heartbreaking, and glorious.  My emotions were all over the place while I watched this movie.  And, if we’re being honest, that doesn’t happen that often, especially with documentaries.  Especially with documentaries about rock bands.  And I was totally blindsided by it.  I was expecting a real life version of Spinal Tap, and I got that to an extent.  But can you believe me when I say this is a real life version of Spinal Tap that very well might make you cry?  I know it sounds unbelievable, but that is what we have on our hands with Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

The band Anvil, at least at the time this movie was made, is made up of Lips Kudlow, Robb Reiner (drums), Glenn Five (bass and backing vocals), and Ivan Hurd (guitar).  Lips and Robb are the only original members of the band still involved, and their relationship goes back quite a bit farther than Anvil.  The two of them met in high school over a mutual love of music.  Lips says in the film that he remembers walking past Robb’s house before he knew him and hearing this crazy, fast, loud drumming coming out of the basement window.  They have been inseparable ever since.  That is the heart of this movie.  The friendship between Lips and Robb is what has kept Anvil alive for 30 years, and that friendship is what drives this movie forward.

Robb Reiner and Lips Kudlow

Robb Reiner and Lips Kudlow

The real action in the movie starts when a European woman Anvil barely knows books them a tour all across Europe.  They leave for the tour very excited, but quickly learn how many things can go wrong on a tour, especially when the manager has no idea what they are doing.  But despite everything that happens, the tour just reinforces the dream Lips and Robb have to be rock stars.  There is no room for discouragement in the pursuit of this dream.  There’s no time to stop and plan out the next move.  There is only constant movement, and the hope that most of that movement is forward.

The joys of touring.

The joys of touring.

That’s where the real beauty comes from in this movie.  These guys have been in constant pursuit of their goal for 30 years and there is never a thought of giving up.  In fact, some of the best moments in the film are after something terrible has happened and we get to listen to Lips try and put a positive spin on it, because he always does.  It’s really amazing.  No matter how bad it gets that man can still see the light at the end of the tunnel.  He is eternally hopeful.  And that is a beautiful thing that is seen all too rarely in today’s films.  Especially in documentaries.  How many documentaries are about something hopeful these days?  Almost all of them are about the terrible things happening during the “War on Terror”.  And while I do think it’s important to know what is happening in our world, I don’t think we need to be bogged down by all the terrible things.  We need things to be hopeful for.  We need people to teach us to hope.  And that is what Lips Kudlow and director Sacha Gervasi have done with Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

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One Response to “David’s Review of Anvil! The Story of Anvil”

  1. tokyo5 November 1, 2009 at 6:04 am #

    This movie just started showing in Japan.
    I watched it and wrote about it here:
    http://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/anvil/

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