You don’t have to give 2 cents about Heavy Metal music to appreciate Sacha Gervasi’s joyous and touching documentary about charismatic Canadian musicians Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner, who for 35 years have held onto their dream of making it big with their Rock band Anvil. Credited with influencing a slew of successful Hard Rock acts including Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, Anvil’s success peaked in the mid-1980s when they played for huge crowds with the likes of Bon Jovi.
The movie starts out with Lips working his day job catering food to Canadian public schools and dreaming of spending his nights performing in local dive bars for a few fiercely loyal fans. Lips and Robb look identical enough to be the biological brothers that their highly emotional relationship reflects.
A European tour, albeit a mismanaged one, puts the band’s musical skill and quirky personalities on display in candid scenes that inspire more than a few laughs. When a club owner in Poland refuses to pay for the band’s performance, Lips grabs the unscrupulous guy by his lapels and threatens him with real bodily harm. It’s a hilarious moment that reflects the way musicians all over the world are mistreated and is a testament to Lips’ personal sense of ethics.
The band recovers from the financially unfulfilling tour to record their 13th album, This Is Thirteen, with Chris Tsangarides, producer of their debut album Metal on Metal, and discovers a new meaning of success. Anvil! is an unforgettable documentary about loyalty, values and an undying commitment to music. Grade: A
Opens May 8 at the Esquire Theatre, which hosts a midnight screening Saturday, after which the band will be on hand for a live performance. Check out Steven Rosen's related story "New Day Rising?" here.