VH1 Films/MTV Networks/Viacom
Metal Express Rating: 9.0/10
Release Date: 2009-10-06
by: GEORGE FUSTOS
Email: george (at) metalexpressradio (dot) com
It was one of those decisions one has to make sometimes… is it going to be a review of the new album This Is Thirteen or is it going to be a review of the movie Anvil-The Story of Anvil? What the hell, do both so here it is! The movie was so damn good that watching it once was just not going to happen and not writing about it would have been a greater sin. So you Anvil fans are getting a double bonus treat this time around.
Watching this movie the first time on VH1 Classic (before the movie was actually released) was a shock to the system. Anyone that is a true Metalhead that watches this for the first time will be left with their mouth agape. It was definitely an eye-opener to say the least. How could a band that was playing these humongous outdoor stadiums and arenas to thousands upon thousands of fans fall off the face of the earth like Anvil had, is the $64,000 question this time around. Let’s face facts, any fan of Metal that has been around since the early 80’s not only knows the name but also knows the band. Now how does one write about a movie without giving away the good stuff?
There are many intimate moments with Lips all alone while he’s driving somewhere being interviewed or just speaking his mind. He comes across as a warm soul who despite everything he has endured in life doesn’t look down on anything or anyone. He speaks softly most of the time while trying to convey his feelings on a wide range of subjects-mostly about the band. He seems to choose his words very carefully when he speaks and despite what he would have you think, is a very intelligent person. He is the glue in the band-that’s obvious from watching this movie. He and Robb Reiner (the drummer) met as friends in high school and have been inseparable ever since. There are many times that their intensely close relationship with one another had been tested and there are countless scenes throughout the movie that will attest to that. It’s an extremely combustible mixture that has one wondering most of the time how the hell the band has stayed together for so long.
A good portion of the movie shows the band heading over to Europe to do a tour (and several smaller gigs) that has Lips and the band ecstatic at first, only to work out in the worst possible way. It is originally set up or arranged by a woman named Tiziana, a good friend of the band’s second guitarist Ivan Hurd who has since left the band and ended up being husband and wife. The band had a hard time catching trains that they relied on for transportation to get them from one gig to another, while driving to other establishments in a timely fashion that they were supposed to play at presented another obstacle, and so forth and so on. Then there is the other problem that comes up and according to Lips seems to happen to just about every band out there trying to make a living, and that is getting paid. The chaotic turn of events, one after another, to be quite honest, makes for interesting viewing.
Parts of the movie shows how Lips and Robb earn a living outside of the band. Watching scenes showing the guys at work and what they had to endure and put up with shows the will that these two individuals had and still have today. One moment they are gods on stage and the next they are mere blue-collar workers busting their ass. During the entire time, not once does Lips or Robb complain, only to make reference to the satisfaction they get from touring and playing in front of any sized crowd. Lips makes a very definitive statement as to his time away from manual labor is his vacation time. Touring and playing equates to vacation!
There are many moments throughout the film where Lips and Robb are seen debating the question as to where the band went wrong and why they weren’t as successful as they should have been, especially by now. Lips states more than once that their albums were produced in an awful fashion and many of them sounded like shit except for a few early albums (Metal On Metal, Forged In Fire, and Backwaxed) produced by Chris Tsangarides. They eventually come to the conclusion that they need to collaborate once again with their good friend Chris Tsangarides. Segueing to where you see Lips walking to the mailbox and dropping a large envelope containing a copy of This Is Thirteen into it, talking to Chris overseas, and then watching a jet plane streaking across the sky, before you know it the guys are walking into Chris’s office (in England) and meet again with great anticipation and overflowing exuberance. The way Lips’ face lights up when speaking with Chris again is synonymous to that of a child on Christmas morning. The way the two of them go back and forth never missing a beat is a definite highlight. Unfortunately with good there comes bad and not too long after you find Lips and Robb at each others throat. Once again you have Robb giving up and wanting to quit while Lips apologizes repeatedly and begs Robb to remain, followed by the two hugging. It is so pure and honest that it almost brings a tear to your eye.
There really isn’t a need to give away more of the film. This is one of those films that is a must watch if not only for the fact that what people take for granted in the music biz doesn’t always go according to plan and there is that “the grass is greener on the other side” enigma going on that there is no explanation for. It’s just one of those things-it’s incredibly tough to make it in the music business and that’s the bottom line. All the glamour and fame that seems to come with it doesn’t always come and there are no guarantees. Just ask Anvil-they’ll tell ya!
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