Never Give Up! The Story of Anvil

Review of Anvil directed by Sacha Gervasi
Rating ****

This is a film about dreams. It's about hope and hanging on to the one thing that makes life worth living. Some have compared this story to the fictional group Spinal Tap. And while there are plenty of parallels to that film, this film is about real people; their successes, failures, and unrealized aspirations.

If you've never heard of the group Anvil, you're not alone. Anvil was and is a heavy metal rock band. The group had a promising beginning during the hey days of heavy metal in the 1980s. But while their contemporaries went on to great success, they slipped into obscurity. But they never stopped trying to make it. Even as they aged and drifted from one low paying job to the next, they continued to record and play. This film focuses on the band's two original founders, vocalist Steve "Lips" Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner.

This film speaks to anyone who has held onto a goal that always seems just out of grasp. If only this or that would happen maybe things would be different. But how long do you hold onto that dream? At what point do you say enough? These guys are in their mid fifties. They've been trying to make it for thirty years. What separates the successful from the unsuccessful? You can't say drive and determination because plenty of people have that and still don't reach their goals. You can't even say talent. There are plenty of examples of people who have accomplished great things who lacked the talent of others. But they did all have one thing going for them and that is persistence and opportunity.

Since I'm not a fan of heavy metal, I can't comment on whether or not the band has talent. The movie uses only short clips of their music. From my perspective, the band kicked but musically but lacked in the delivery. The lyrics, vocals, and hooks weren't on the same level of someone like Metalica.But then again I can only judge on the small amount of music I did hear. Regardless of my opinion, there are plenty of people who feel that they do have talent, which means there is a market for what they have to offer. So why didn't they capitalize on that market? This is the question the film tries to answer.

Whether you are an aspiring writer, musician, or filmmaker, this film will speak to you. There is one particular scene that anyone who creates can relate to. The band has finally gone for broke. They realize that time is running out. They enlist the help of a talented producer. They borrow some $25,000 from Steve's sister to record a new album. The band considers it the best album they have made. But they don't have money or representation. They have to find a record label on their own. They go to LA and end up handing out their demo CDs to security guards and receptionists who treat their hard work like junk mail. They finally get a meeting with a record executive at EMI. This could be their big break. The record company executive puts on the CD and listens to about fifteen seconds before turning the CD off and basically telling them they have no chance. Though they don't see this and try to look for positives. That one scene, unfortunately, is what happens every day whether it be in publishing, film, or music. People make snap judgments that are more often than not wrong.

Yet despite the many setbacks, Steve and the band remain optimistic. Who cares if they don't get a major record label. If they can get twenty people to buy their CD, they're happy.

I won't spoil the ending. I will encourage you to watch this film and listen to the audio commentary for more insight into what took place before and after the film. Go Anvil!

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