Anvil! The Story of Anvil

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Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Release Date: Now playing in select cities

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Starring: Steve "Lips" Kudlow, Robb Reiner
Cinematographer: Christopher Soos
Studio/Run Time: Abramorama, 90 mins.

I’ll admit, when I first started hearing word of a documentary about a hugely influential but largely forgotten Canadian heavy-metal band now in their fifties, I suspected a hoax. Seeing the film only brought the Spinal Tap comparisons into clearer focus-the aging rockers suffering through demeaning gigs, the memory of the big show in Japan, the visit to Stonehenge, even an amp that actually goes to 11. But director Sascha Gervasi is playing those cards very deliberately—and very well. And his Anvil! The Story of Anvil word for it; Dustin Hoffman told the director: “This is the most inspirational, moving, beautiful film I think I’ve ever seen. I hated heavy metal until tonight.”

millions upon millions of records. For proof, listen to Lars of Metallica, Lemmy of Motorhead and Slash of Guns N' Roses, all of whom give glowing testimony in the film. But unlike those bands, Anvil never quite hit it big, due to a combination of bad management, bad record labels and bad luck. When we find Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner (yes, his real name) at the present-day beginning of the film, they’re stuck in dead-end jobs in Toronto (Lips drives a delivery truck; Robb works construction). But they’re still rocking together, just as they made a pact to do 36 years ago in high school.

the Sundance Film Festival (where the film got standing ovations at every showing) originally thought the film was a hoax, too.

Lips’ and Robb’s tireless devotion to their dreams, and to each other, is Gervasi’s secret weapon. He draws you in with the silliness, but sets his hook with the sweetness. Their friendship, especially, is as deep and lasting as any you’ll find in music (“Siamese twins,” as one family member describes them). When Lips unabashedly explains, “It’s great to be in the same room as the people that love you,” how could you not be touched? And best of all, after you’ve seen the film, you’ll be inspired not only to participate in Anvil’s realization of their dreams (“this is the one film where the fans are writing the epilogue,” glows Lips), but maybe even to doggedly pursue your own.

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