Synopsis: At 14, best friends Robb Reiner and Lips made a pact to rock together forever. Their band, Anvil, hailed as the "demi-gods of Canadian metal," influenced a musical generation that includes Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, despite never hitting the big time. Following a calamitous European tour, Lips and Robb, now in their fifties, set off to record their 13th album in one last attempt to fulfill their boyhood dreams. This is the story of Anvil.
I had the good fortune of seeing this movie with the stars, Anvil, in the theater. They played a short set (White Rhino, This is 13, 666, Metal on Metal) afterward in the theater and it's obvious they still rock. I was shocked at how good they sounded. But first, the movie review.
This movie goes to 11. It's a documentary that feels more like a mockumentary really, but it's all true. It reminded me many times of This Is Spinal Tap, one of my favorite rock movies ever, but also at times it reminded me a lot of Metallica's Some Kind Of Monster documentary as well, with a lot of emotion and band turmoil. The guys are extremely likable and I found myself really pulling for them as underdogs and just good guys. But the real memorable and enjoyable thing about the film is the humor.
I was in an absolutely packed theater, over-packed to be honest (people sitting in the aisles even), and people were laughing and cheering all the way through as the band faced minor disasters and unintentional humor left-and-right. Lips and Robb are just so damn likable and seeing how much they truly love playing the music and how much they dream of being huge, it's just awesome. Everyone who likes music, every genre, and has dreamed of making it should see this film.
They argue like brothers, they make-up like best friends and show genuine emotion as we learn from their families how badly they want this, how hard they work and how much their friends and families care about them and want it for them too. I was actually moved to tears a couple of times. Some of the most moving parts are when Lips gets so upset by something his lip is literally quivering as he fights back tears. You just sort of want to hug the little fella.
Rock stars from Slash to Lemmy to Lars Ulrich chime in with their thoughts and it adds some heaviness and helps to show just how close these guys must have been to being "in the big time" back in the early 80s, before bands like Metallica. Backstage at a huge more current festival, it's a blast to see Lips acting like a lovestruck teen as he gets to meet some of his idols.
Regardless of whether or not you like Anvil, or even metal for that matter, go see this. It's hilarious. It's sad. It's entertaining. It's heart-warming. It's actually very uplifting as well. It's just a rare feel-good movie all around.
As much as I loved the film itself, the added experience of seeing it with them in attendance and then having them come walking down the aisle, Lips with a huge smile on his face as they received a hero's welcome and standing ovation, is one of the greatest movie/musical experiences of my lifetime. The guys can still rock, no doubt, and they enjoy it the whole time. For once in my life at a concert, when Lips exclaimed "This is just too cool!", I felt like the lead singer actually meant it.