May 25th, 2009



Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a documentary being marketed as a real-life This Is Spinal Tap, and in some ways that's certainly true.

Lots of talk about art and being an artist before singing songs with ridiculous "dark" lyrics while wearing fetish gear? Check.

Bad '80s hair? Check.

Tour that ends up sucking? Check.

Band breaking up and getting back together on camera? Check.

Stonehenge? Check.

A woman named "Droid"? Sorry, only in Anvil.

And yet, the movie is so much more than a real-life Spinal Tap. I wasn't into '80s heavy metal at the time, but even I had heard of Metallica, Slayer, Megadath and Anthrax, the "big four" metal acts of the era. However, before this movie, I'd never heard of Canadian metal band Anvil, the equivalent here of the fifth Beatle. And in a way, I'm proving the movie's point. Anvil were as talented and popular as any of the "big four," but bad management and a bad label doomed them to join the ranks of the forgotten, a "Whatever happened to...?" band for those in the know, and a "Who?" band for people like me. The movie catches up with the two remaining original band members, nice Jewish kids from Toronto Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Robb "I Paint Landscapes and Shit" Reiner, as they try to recapture the glory days, only to run into one wall after another -- including Robb's extremely negative sister "Droid."

You may want to see Anvil! The Story of Anvil to laugh at these chuckleheads, but believe me when I tell you that by the end, you'll be cheering for them. It's a surprisingly emotionally involving film, and I felt every high and low Steve and Robb experienced as they continue their efforts to make their dream real.

Was the music good? Well, '80s speed metal still isn't really my thing, but let's just say I haven't been able to get Anvil's biggest hit, "Metal on Metal," out of my head since leaving the theater.

Or that one particular painting of Robb's. If you've seen Anvil, you know the one I'm talking about. Oysh.