'Anvil': For Heavy-Metal Vets, It's A Hard-Rock Life

Robb Reiner , Steve "Lips" Ludlow i i

hide captionBand Aid: Robb Reiner and Steve "Lips" Ludlow contemplate their uncertain future.

Brent J. Craig/VH1 and Abramorama Films
Robb Reiner , Steve "Lips" Ludlow

Band Aid: Robb Reiner and Steve "Lips" Ludlow contemplate their uncertain future.

Brent J. Craig/VH1 and Abramorama Films

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

  • Director: Sacha Gervasi
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Running Time: 80 minutes

Unrated

Heavy metal music is not everyone's cup of noise, but that shouldn't stop anyone from enjoying the heck out of Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

No, really: You probably never expected to see the words "heavy metal," "endearing" and "warm-hearted" in the same sentence. But Anvil is about heavy metal in the same way Spellboundwas about spelling — meaning it's not, not really.

Instead, it's a surprisingly charming look at the careers of some earnest, eternally hopeful rockers who cling to optimism about a glorious future despite reality's repeated blows. ("The music lasts forever ... and that's the most important thing," one says, as guilelessly as only a true believer can.) Think of it as a real-life version of the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.

Steve "Lips" Kudlow is Anvil's lead singer, and the guy behind that pie-eyed quote. Twenty-five years ago, his band was one of the giants of metal music. Now Anvil's status is so precarious that it's held together by the bond between Lips and drummer Robb Reiner, two guys who met in high school and wrote a tune inspired, no kidding, by a class on the Spanish Inquisition. "Thumbs will twist," goes their song "Thumb Hang" — "can you resist?"

Despite the in-your-face nature of both the group's lyrics and their stage personas, this film shows you what you don't expect: the yearning, almost childlike enthusiasm that these men — both in their 50s, with families and day jobs — bring to their work and their quest for ever-elusive success.

"Time doesn't move backwards, it moves forwards," Kudlow says, with characteristic earnestness, as the group decides to give stardom one more shot. And no matter what troubles they face, Kudlow and Reiner remain good company, always upbeat no matter how many cockeyed crises come around the bend. Maybe the music does live forever, no matter how loud it is.

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