It's all here: the hair, the riffs, the disastrous gigs, the dumb lyrics about sex, the boyhood friends who've been playing music together most of their lives—and fighting each other for just as long. There's a scene in a deli where they hum the very first song they wrote together. There's a pilgrimage to Stonehenge. The drummer's name is Robb Reiner, for crying out loud.
But Anvil!: The Story of Anvil isn't a meta-spoof of This Is Spinal Tap concocted by snide comedians—no, this is a 100 percent true story, and all the more amazing for it. Reiner and Steve "Lips" Kudlow have kept the dream of their metal band, Anvil, alive since the early '80s—when they almost made it big, but were surpassed by Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. Still, the pair never got discouraged, and Anvil! depicts the Canadian rockers—now in their fifties—as they continue to desperately clutch at dreams of rock stardom.
It sounds pathetic, but that's part of the movie's appeal. Anvil! is wickedly funny, and Reiner and Kudlow make a great buddy team: Reiner remains stalwart and steady, while Kudlow stays boyishly enthusiastic. The movie hits high notes when backstage at a Swedish metal festival Kudlow's inner fanboy kicks in and he giddily scrambles after rockers like Carmine Appice and Tommy Aldridge ("Who?" you might ask, rightly); or when Kudlow takes a soul-sucking job at a telemarketing company (run by one of Anvil's biggest fans) in order to raise money for their next record.
It becomes a familiar but surprisingly emotional story, and I found myself rooting for the band, even while not particularly wanting to hear another note of their music. Now, with the acclaim of the Anvil! film on the festival circuit and beyond—it'll play on VH1 later this year—it looks as though Anvil is finally getting some of the attention they've been looking for. Lord knows they've earned it.