WEATHER »
<em>Anvil! The Story of Anvil</em> follows the ups and downs of the Canadian heavy metal band.

Brent J. Craig

Anvil! The Story of Anvil follows the ups and downs of the Canadian heavy metal band.


Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Steve “Lips” Kudlow, Robb Reiner, and Tiziana Arrigoni Star in a Film Directed by Sacha Gervasi


In the age of the mockumentary, especially as defined by classics such as This Is Spinal Tap and Borat, our satire sensors can be overly attuned, even when we know the truth is before us. There are countless moments in Sacha Gervasi’s fascinating documentary, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, when we forget that it’s all about the “doc,” not the mock.

For those unhip to the backstory, Anvil are an influential Canadian heavy metal band that knew a fleeting 15 minutes of fame in the mid ‘80s before drifting off into obscurity, but never oblivion, thanks to the fierce dream and long-standing friendship of lead singer “Lips” and drummer Robb Reiner (no relation to the Spinal Tap director).

We first meet the band in archival glory, playing before thousands of head-banging fans at the Super Rock Festival in Japan. In one of the many rock-star testimonials lining the film, guitarist Slash sings the band’s praises and, on the subject of why they never got the glory due, he figures, “Everyone ripped ‘em off and then sort of left them for dead.”

But no-unless you consider a quiet life in suburban Toronto some kind of death sentence. This surprisingly strong and artful documentary, a testament to resiliency, is disguised as a VH1-style Where Are They Now? episode, with an ongoing storyline extending from teenaged fantasies to deal-chasing in their fifties. Despite grubby day jobs, gigs for tens in bowling alleys, and a general malaise of midlife crisis, our heroes soldier forth and riff on, working toward a new album and a hoped-for new era.

Their story is an emotional rollercoaster ride. A European tour has some highs, but more dispiriting lows. And perhaps inevitably, there are Spinal Tap-esque moments, intentional and otherwise, along the way. In the studio in England, Anvil’s producer twists to a knob that “goes to 11” and their visit to Stonehenge can’t help but remind us of the hilarious “size matters” scene in Tap.

Ultimately, Anvil! is neither comedy nor tragedy, though it’s flecked with both. Heavy metal music isn’t the real subject here at all: It’s about the strange and steady flow of life, time, and dreams, set to pounding beats and growling guitar licks.

For showtimes, check the Independent's movie listings, here.

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



event calendar sponsored by:

SEC Sues Goleta Breast Implant Company’s CEO for Fraud

Hani Zeini allegedly concealed information and misled investors.

Goleta Woman Arrested in Hope Ranch for Prowling

Christen Aceves was also wanted for unlawful possession of a bird of prey.

Man Talked Down from Goleta Overpass

The 48-year-old had tied himself to a sign support.

Get Oil Out Founder and Dolphin Sculptor Bud Bottoms Dies

He was a true man-about-town and an engaged public citizen.

Plastic Bags? Throw ’Em Away

Santa Barbara County makes recycling rules tougher in face of exacting standards.