Anvil! The Story Of Anvil

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Anvil! The Story Of Anvil

ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL is the sensitive and irresistibly funny story of unsung heroes of Canadian heavy metal Anvil. Jewish teenagers Robb Reiner a...

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Review of "Anvil! The Story Of Anvil"

published 21/07/2009 | thedevilinme
Member since : 13/05/2008
Reviews : 2558
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Pro Best rockumentry for years
Cons Anvil suck
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"'Cos for 24 years I've been living next door to Anvil...Anvil...."

I know what you are thinking - who the hell are Anvil!! Well, that's the point of this charming and engrossing documentary on heavy rocks forgotten men who could easily have been the Canadian Iron Maiden, if it hadn't gone so badly wrong back in the early 1990s, Triumph, alas, now sitting in bronze medal position behind Celine Dion and Bryan Adams as Canada's most famous musical exports.

In the dictionary it describes an anvil as a 'simple tool', something that would make the younger readers who know street slang snigger, especially if they heard the bands later stuff. Anvil were a pretty ordinary but well supported rock band back in the day, hyped up by the British music press as the next big thing in the mid 1980s, rocks decade, looking set to be huge but then just disappearing, which is a mystery as rock gods from the past and present who contribute to the film seem very impressed with them at their height. Their musicians were more than competent, especially drummer Rob Reiner, and their sound certainly distinctive, Metallica`s Lars Ulrich even proclaiming Anvil as 'their biggest influence and maybe the band that created Thrash Metal'. But their tunes were anything but complex and their likeable and charismatic lead singer, Steve 'Lips' Kudlow, seemed to be the sole driving force of their 15 minutes of fame, as he is in the present day throughout this film, preferring to play the guitar with a sex aid than take the bands evolution seriously at their prime, resulting in this highly entertaining film, the original band members now working in warehouses and driving trucks in snowy Ontario, the packed out stadiums a distant memory but still a dream of the effervescent Lips that the band will rise again as his 50th birthday approaches.

-The Cast-

Steve 'Lips' Kudlow ... Himself / Lead Guitar
Robb Reiner ... Himself / Drummer
Tiziana Arrigoni ... Herself / Manager
Kevin Goocher ... Himself
Glenn Gyorffy ... Himself
William Howell ... Himself
Lemmy ... Himself
Slash ... Himself
Chris Tsangarides ... Himself
Lars Ulrich ... Himself

We open the documentary with Anvil at their peak, handsome long haired kids performing to a packed rock festival in Japan in 1985, the fans jammed in as tight as the bands crutches in the spandex, playing along side some of rocks greats on the same gig, those names scrolling across the screen with the pronouncement that they went on to become millionaires...except Anvil, this film exploring the reasons why that is, which become obvious pretty quickly.

The narrator and film maker, Sacha Garvesi, was a fan of the band in his youth and so felt he needed to tell the Anvil story, he too bemused why the band never made it. But any serious rock fans of the time (me) will tell you they weren't melodic enough and that's what the commercial selling point was back then, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi and Def Leopard selling huge volumes of records in that decade on that vibe, Anvil, fatally for them, labelled in the 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal' category, which meant musically ahead of their time but seriously behind in record sales. They carried on banging out records through the 1990s but their seminal effort, 'Metal on Metal', was sadly for them the last sight of the rock periscope as they disappeared under the liquid metal waves, only to resurface in this unexpected, uplifting and funny documentary.

The film hooks up with the band in the present day (2008) to show that stark contrast from the glory days, lead singer and guitarist Lips and drummer Rob Reiner, the documentary's main protagonists for the duration, now just ordinary blue-collar workers, but still rocking out at small clubs and keeping the dream alive in their downtime. They even play at Jewish weddings, one of the films funniest scenes, both guys of that religious background. The likeable Lips delivers kids meals to schools in a truck whilst the more intense Reiner is a construction worker. The band still has hardcore fans from the glory days, one that can drink a bottle of beer through his nose no less, but the wives, alas, equally delusional on a glorious comeback.

The films main narrative follows their first big European tour for quite a while, organised by a Swiss female fan of the band they met on the internet, Tiziana Arrigoni, she proposing twenty dates in cosy venues, everything from a pub room in Prague to a Baltic naval base. The tour is a disaster as your would expect and you do have this nagging cynical doubt that maybe this movie is a clever stunt by a likewise director to help promote the band and that comeback, its alarming amount of Spinal Tap moments seemingly deliberate and not random and in for comical reasons to help sell it. But the more you watch the more genuine their journey becomes and you are seeing two old rockers that just wont grow up and accept that their lives have moved on and they need to be the dads they are and pay the bills like everyone else that age, hence getting in the constant pickles they do in search of the comeback. Lips has re-mortgaged his house for this tour and always believes it will happen where as Reiner is closest and most loyal friend and just goes along with it, not wanting to see his mated dream die. In the film it's rumoured the top bands wanted to sign up Reiners drumming skills in the 80s and that loyalty to Lips is quite motional to see on screen, two really nice guys living with their heart on their sleeves.

The film has certain pathos about getting old, the band relegation from the Premiership of rock to the Unibond Premier pub circuit painful to see, but Lips always the positive force that they will get back on top.

After the chaotic tour they are out of pocket and so Lips gets in touch with his old British producer of their first hit albums, Chris Tsangarides, he promising to meet if they come to England to cut a record, but only for thirteen grand (30,000 Canadian dollars) up front, which the boys clearly don't have. But if it will keep the dream alive then Lips is determined to find the cash and as they pack their bags for the Dover recording studio you can't help but cheer for them, with Zippo lighter in hand, that they will indeed get one last shot to put everything back where it was. If Kajagoogoo can make it big again then so can Anvil!

-The Conclusion-

There's no doubt director Sacha Garvesi has made a genuine film here and being a big fan of the band is the reason why, refusing to ridicule or stitch them up in any way, but also enjoying plenty of subtle tributes and references to Spinal Tap throughout his film, amps that go to eleven, a trip to Stonehenge, mix-ups over tour buses and hotel bookings and the band members continuingly falling out, of course, even the drummer Rob Reinner sharing the same name of the director of 'This is Spinal Tap'. There's a lovely little scene in cafe where the two reminisce about their first ever song they wrote,' 'Thumb Hang', based on the Spanish Inquisition, no less, but a scene cut straight from the Spinal Tap movie when David St Hubbins and Nigel Tufnell sing their first ditty in a similar café. There's just too many of those moments to be coincidence.

I suppose the sweetest part of the film is the way the guys idolise the bands they knew back then when they were all famous together, almost autograph hunters, when it was probably the other way around in the 80s. The Aerosmiths of the world have forgotten who they are and bemused when these chubby long haired Canadians come up to them and say do you remember that night in Rome with two midgets! Once they remember who Anvil and Lips were they mutter the inevitable...'what ever happened to you guys?, that surely what will be written on their gravestones, Spike Milligan style, this film and not their records their unfortunate but worthy legacy of rocks finest nearly men. This project has certainly done them a lot of good. On June 9, it was announced that Anvil will open for AC/DC at their first two summer Black Ice World Tour shows in North American at the end of July. The boys are back!

= v = v = Special Features = v = v =

-Audio Commentary-

Sacha Garvesi and Lips talk about this excellent movie.

-Deleted Scenes-

Cut scenes from a documentary are best not seen.


An extended chat with Lars Ulrich is the highlight and it's also nice to know what happened to the other band members.

-Rocking with Garvesi-

As a fan the director, a competent drummer, gets to play with them live on stage near the end of the film at a Japanese festival.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = scores it 8.4 out of 10.0 (1,457 votes)
RuN-TiMe 90 minutes
2 films for 2 nights for £5 at Blockbusters
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Summary: Suprise hit of the year

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Comments on this review

  • 2mennycds published 28/11/2017
  • justarube published 15/07/2017
  • danielclark691 published 18/11/2016
    well reviewed
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Product Information : Anvil! The Story Of Anvil

Manufacturer's product description

ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL is the sensitive and irresistibly funny story of unsung heroes of Canadian heavy metal Anvil. Jewish teenagers Robb Reiner and Steve "Lips" Kudlow met in the mid-seventies in a Toronto high school and soon decided that rock was their destiny. Anvil was forged. The band gained a cult following among heavy metal enthusiasts during the eighties, but never really made it in the often cruel and clueless mainstream rock circuit. Not withstanding a plethora of eager fans including Metallica and Guns ‘N’ Roses, who have frequently cited Anvil as a source of inspiration, the Toronto based outfit got irremediably swallowed by oblivion. But rocking out isn’t just a matter of attitude or luck; it is instead a vocation which Anvil never turned its back on, while patiently waiting for its call to greatness. Director Sacha Gervasi (THE TERMMINAL) witnessed Anvil’s fall from grace directly, having worked as a roadie for the band in its heyday. Moving and hilarious, ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL documents Reiner and Kudlow’s last shot at stardom and follows them on the road during an often farcical European tour. The film’s recurring grotesque and surreal situations could see it mistaken for an attempted mockumentary, when it is nothing more than the heart-felt portrait of two stubbornly dedicated dreamers.

Release Details

DVD Region: DVD

Studio(s): UNIVERSAL PICTURES UK; CINRAM LOGISTICS (SWINDON), Universal Pictures UK Video Rental

Featured: Slash, Robb Reiner, Lars Ulrich, Chris Tsangarides

Band: Anvil


Main Language: English

Technical Information

Special Features: Audio commentary with the director and cast, Featurette, Deleted scenes, Interviews

Sound: Dolby Digital

Professional Reviews

Review: The most heartwarming film ever made about metal music (Los Angeles Times, 2009-04-30)<br><br>Hardcore inspirational (Rolling Stone, 2009-04-30)<br><br>The most stirring release of the year thus far (The New Yorker, 2009-04-30)<br><br>Thoughtfully constructed […] has to be one of the most engaging, big-hearted music movies yet made. It’s an emotional journey for the audience, one that is as likely to have them weeping with laughter as it is to have them welling up over the bitter disappointments of the men it follows. It’s a heart-lifting story about following an impossible dream. (The Times, 2009-04-30)<br><br>


Listed on Ciao since: 27/03/2009