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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (review)

I’m still not 100 percent convinced that this wonderfully bittersweet documentary isn’t entirely a put-on. I mean, I know that it isn’t… but I want it noted for the record that when we do eventually hear that a time machine and mind control and other superadvanced CIA technology was involved in pulling one over on all of us, I totally called it. Anvil was — or so we’re told by first-time filmmaker Sacha Gervasi, and that’s got to be a made-up name, right? — a fully awesome 1980s Canadian heavy metal troupe that somehow failed to make it as big as their contemporaries such as Metallica and Guns & Roses, and today the washed-up yet thoroughly enchanting band members continue to stick together and rock on and hold out hope for their big-in-Japan moment. If the likes of Lars Ulrich and Slash enthusiastically vouching for them wasn’t suspicious enough, one of the guys in Anvil is called “Robb Reiner” — you know, like the director of This Is Spinal Tap — and another one, Steve “Lips” Kudlow, used to play his lead guitar onstage with a dildo. (When we learn that their drummer choked to death on one of Lips’s sex toys, we’ll know we’ve been had.) There’s a disastrous would-be comeback tour, complete with an unlikely chick manager. There’s strife within the band. There’s a puppet-show-Spinal Tap moment. There is, dear god, a date in Tokyo. Look, this has gotta be fake because its entire premise — that people who try to live the creative life always get kicked in the nuts for it, metaphorically speaking — is too depressing to be borne. So I maintain that it’s all a fictional exercise in encouraging kids to stay in school and become accountants, lest they get the idea that rock ’n’ roll is glamorous, lucrative, or anything other than a self-perpetuating slave drive for anyone truly dedicated to it even when the money doesn’t roll in.

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb | trailer
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  • I had the exact same reaction when watching this movie, exactly the same. The “Robb Reiner” thing is just way too much. Have you been reading MY blog?

    In San Francisco, at the screening I saw, the band played a short set after the movie was finished. They weren’t all that good, but they were extremely enthusiastic.

    Fictional or not, though, it’s a truly fun movie.

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