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DVD Review: Anvil: The Story Of Anvil

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If you liked The Wrestler, you will love Anvil: The Story Of Anvil. Like Mickey Rourke’s fictitious Randy “The Ram” Robinson, Anvil exist in a state of pure denial. The band wholeheartedly believe that their big break is just around the corner, even after some 30 years of slogging it out.

The DVD opens with footage from the 1984 Super Rock Festival in Japan, a huge event that Anvil played along with metal titans such as The Scorpions, Whitesnake, and Bon Jovi. Cut to some interview segments with famous fans including Lemmy of Motorhead, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, and Slash of Guns And Roses. All are united in their belief that Anvil should have made it.

The next scene shows Steve “Lips” Kudlow at his day job, delivering food for a catering company, on a cold Canadian winter’s day. Apparently Lips is a pretty good worker, according to the testimonials from his fellow employees. But Lips’ heart and soul is in rock and roll.

Anvil’s first album was released in 1981, and the beauty of The Story Of Anvil is in how it shows the guys still believing in the dream all these years later. If you are looking for Spinal Tap type yuks, The Story Of Anvil does not really deliver. Rather you come to root for these 50-something rockers, who refuse to acknowledge the painfully obvious fact that the train left the station years ago.

We follow the band on a disastrous tour of Europe, booked by their inept groupie/manager (who wound up marrying the guitar player). They get a call from a big time record producer in London who wants to work with them, the catch is they need $20,000 to do it. After Lips spends some time in a hellish telemarketing center, his sister loans him the money.

The resulting album, This Is Thirteen was originally sold on the band’s website, after some humiliating turn-downs from record labels. It has just been reissued by the VH1 Classic label, and is a surprisingly good metal album.

The movie ends on an up note, with Anvil playing another metal festival in Japan, to an adoring crowd. The Story Of Anvil is a great documentary, whether you are a metal fan or not. The story of boyhood pals Lips, and drummer Robb Reiner refusing to stop pursuing their dream is downright inspirational. With the release of The Story Of Anvil, the band have received more attention than ever before. And that is a heart warming turn of events.

The bonus features on the DVD are fairly minimal. There are some deleted scenes featuring interviews with former band members, Lips’ brother, and more of Lips’ co-workers at Choice Children’s Catering. Producer Sacha Gervasi gets the gift of a lifetime when he is invited onstage in Japan to drum on “School Love.”

The interview with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich is really worth seeing though. Over the course of this 30 minute segment, Ulrich goes from the bored rock star we all have grown tired of, to the 18 year old metalhead he once was. He really dug Anvil back in the day, and still does.

If jaded old rockers like Ulrich can still get excited about Anvil, there is hope yet. The Story Of Anvil is a damn fine DVD, and carries a nice message of believing in your dreams, no matter what the odds are.

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About Greg Barbrick

  • Greg Barbrick

    Thanks Glen. Yeah, there were some pretty ridiculous scenes they found themselves in, that’s for sure. Good flick.

  • My take on this is slightly different than yours — because I actually did find a lot of humor here, just because the situations and the guys themselves represent such a walking-talking metal cliche.

    But mostly I agree with your review. It is uplifting in the sense that the focus is on a bunch of guys who refuse to give up on their dream, no matter how misguided it is. And you absolutely do find yourself rooting for these guys. They are such likable lunkheads, its hard not to. Good review.