"Even though Anvil doesn't give me pay it gives me the joy and the pleasure that you need to get through life" - Steve 'Lips' Kudlow, Anvil
Anvil were, and still are, a hugely influential heavy metal band. Back in the 1980s, when hair was long and trousers were tight and guitar solos were . . . . . . long and tight, Anvil seemed poised to become superstars. Then it didn't happen. Nobody really knows why, judging by this documentary, but Anvil just weren't destined for greatness. Thankfully, nobody told them that and they kept working hard over the years to regain their former glory and prove that they deserve to be a success. Anvil: The Story Of Anvil covers a pivotal time in the life of the band as they make personal, and financial, sacrifices to give it all one more go at becoming rock gods.
If you're not a fan of heavy metal then this may not appear to be a documentary that you'll be rushing to watch, but give it a go and you may well find yourself as entertained and uplifted as I was. Because this isn't really about heavy metal, although it obviously IS. Anvil may be a heavy metal band, and their music is scattered throughout the soundtrack, but this is about people who have kept their spirits up throughout more than two and a half decades. It's about having self-belief that may have others doubting your sanity, but that may also be entirely justified.
Steve 'Lips' Kudlow and Robb Reiner are the core of the band and the documentary really focuses on them. They're two men who are much more than just band-mates. They are best friends and even almost brothers. When things go wrong they are quick to take it out on one another, but they stick it out through even the bleakest of times. Sadly, plenty does go wrong and it always seems to be when they most need it to go right.
The problems begin when the band goes on a tour arranged by Tiziana Arrigoni. Tiziana may be a big fan who believes that the band deserves more exposure and a better lifestyle, but she's a terrible manager. A small European tour quickly turns into a disaster, all of which is caught on camera by director Sacha Gervasi, before the band members return home to consider their next move (for Anvil's guitarist Ivan Hurd that next move involved marrying Tiziana, funnily enough).
There are moments in the documentary that you can't believe weren't put there to raise laughs, to deliberately tip a nod and a wink to This Is Spinal Tap, but those moments are just part of life in a band and part of what these musicians have to endure as they keep following their dream. You will laugh, though mostly at the situations and not AT the band members themselves, but you will also be impressed by their dedication to their own cause and how they keep dealing with whatever is thrown at them - from venues not wanting to pay to music execs not knowing how to market their music.
As the end credits roll you might just end up agreeing that Anvil deserve some respect and deserve their place on stage in front of a sell-out crowd. Why not? If Lemmy, Slash, Lars Ulrich and many other rockers think so highly of them, then they definitely shouldn't be dismissed just because fate hasn't smiled upon them in a while. That's one of the many lessons here applicable to everyone, no matter what they do in life.