Posted by: Ben | May 22, 2009

100 Movies: Anvil – The Story Of Anvil

(Film. Gervasi. US, 2008)

There would be much reward to be had in comparing Anvil to Spinal Tap, were it not for the fact that every group in the history of live music could fruitfully be compared to Spinal Tap, although perhaps none so much as Anvil, a loud and obscure Toronto metal band whose glory days were in the early 80s. One of those bands, it would appear, with a small number of fans, many of whom were inspired to form bands themselves as a result.

Tormenting themselves with dreams of stardom, frontman Lips (the nicest man in the world) and drummer Robb Reiner (no, really) have persisted, and following some opening archive footage the film opens with Anvil playing to maybe a dozen people in a nightclub. Filmmaker and former roadie Gervasi follows Anvil’s subsequent travails as their comically incompetent manager books them on a tour of Europe on which anything that can go wrong does (missed trains, fights with promoters, being blanked by Teutonic guitar legend Michael Schenker) culminating in the band headlining a Transylvanian rock festival in front of just over 100 people.

Anvil frontman and official nicest man in the world Lips, whose usual day job is working for Meals On Wheels, takes a job at a call centre in an effort to finance the recording of their thirteenth album, but in the end it’s his family who come through for him. Because this is a film about love.

It’s also a life-affirming tribute to the power of dreams and the continuing position of Japan as an empire where glamorous teenagers go nuts for middle-aged rockers. But I bet they wish they had had the idea of having a film made about them earlier.

****

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