27
Mar 09

The Spinal Tap In The Room

Do You See + FT2 comments • 303 views

ANVIL! The Story Of Anvil: The Story Of A Metal Band Called Anvil: As Seen In The Film Anvil! is a very sweet movie about ambition, dreams and never giving up. At its core are two childhood friends who love playing heavy metal and had a brush with the big time, but since then have refused to give up. Despite ageing, and having tedious day jobs, they still have a dream of making that great album and having that great tour. It is in many ways an analogue to Darren Aronfsky’s The Wrestler, except of course Anvil! is real. Though it is so farcical in places that at least one of the people who came to see it with me refused to believe it. Because whilst it mirrors The Wrestlers “never say die in reduced circumstances” attitude, it also features an extremely likeable pair of leads in Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow and Robb Reiner, it – oh.

You noticed.

The problem with Anvil! is also probably the reason it has had distribution. This Is Spinal Tap. Perhaps too much play has been made on the similarity between Anvil and Spinal Tap, which boils down to having a drummer called Robb Reiner and being a Heavy Metal band from the eighties. With two very close core members. The problem is in this real / unreal divide: where you can laugh at ineptitude or farce in Spinal Tap, it is exceedingly mean spirited to do so at Anvil. And so you can find yourself in a very difficult position in the cinema. Anvil is, in places, very funny. But usually when Rob or Steve are being funny, or the film leads us to a punchline. Watching Anvil play to ten people in Prague and almost having a fight because they don’t get paid, that’s not funny. MAN IN THE FRONT ROW OF THE CINEMA TAKE NOTE. Perhaps it is the problem with Metal that the heart of it is pretty ridiculous, which allows the film to slip into Christopher Guest territory sometimes (but then that was the point of Tap in itself). But Anvil exists more to enjoy the relationships and staying power – not matter how misguided. They love making this music.

When Mickey Rourke takes that jump off of the corner post at the end of The Wrestler we know it will lead to no good. He’s a busted flush, and cannot live any other way. The strange thing is, when Anvil are hawking around their new album and have no joy we do not feel the same way. Perhaps this is the difference between reality and a film. Because Anvil will now always exist within the context of the film that explains them. Which means they will be playing the Monsters Of Rock and they will sell that album – because the film has done well. If Randy The Ram was real, he’d be at the next Wrestlemania. (Of course such is the state of “reality” in wrestling that Rourke as Randy may well turn up.) So perhaps I shouldn’t feel so bad about the man in the front row laughing at Anvil, rather than with them. Anvil will be getting the last laugh after all, because it is a terrific little documentary.

Comments

  1. 1
    Tommy Mack on 30 Mar 2009 #

    The Wrestler tells us that it’s better to die doing what you love than to give it up for an easy life, whereas Anvil teaches us that if you have the love and support of your friends and family you can live with the sacrifices you make when you stick to your guns in the face of failure. I suppose it also says something about the cameraderie of being in a band, but then Steve and Robb have incredibly supportive families too – you can’t imagine either of them blowing off dinner with their kids to do lines of cheap speedy coke and bum a lunatic.

  2. 2
    Steve Ison on 4 Apr 2009 #

    Thats a great review..I havn’t seen the film but i want to now!

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