Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2009)

And Metallica thought they had the best metal rockumentary out there.

At 14, best friends Robb Reiner and Lips made a pact to rock together forever. Their band, Anvil, hailed as the “demi-gods of Canadian metal”, influenced a musical generation that includes Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, despite never hitting the big time. Following a calamitous European tour, Lips and Robb, now in their fifties, set off to record their 13th album in one last attempt to fulfill their boyhood dreams.

I don’t really have a certain taste in music like I used to. I just listen to everything including metal which is where I heard about this band, Anvil, first. But it doesn’t matter if you’re a metal fan or you think that music is for the weirdo who sits in the corner during your 3rd period because this film will work for you.

A lot of the credit for this flick probably should go to director Sacha Gervasi, who was a roadie for this band way back in the day when they were big, and still shows his love for them 20 years later. Gervasi shows these rockers for what they are, actual people. We all see these rock stars on stage and we think that all of their craziness they show off-stage is how they are in real-life, when in reality, they are no more different from you or me. Gervasi captures the pain, heartbreak, but also happy times that come to this band throughout this period of time and it was great to see how much of emotion he could get out of these guys as well as the people that surrounded, supported, and loved them all their lives.

This isn’t your normal ‘VH1’s Behind the Music’ episode where they just spout out the history and information about this band with no emotional connection whatsoever, there’s a heart here to not only these guys but the story as well. You feel something for these dudes because all they want t0 do is keep on rockin’ and rockin’ but they just keep on getting bad luck, which gets you almost as upset as these guys are. It doesn’t matter if you like this music or not, you can still appreciate the heart that these guys have and to watch them just got shoved back is very hard to watch at times.

However, this isn’t just a total sap-fest because there is still always the happy moments here as well. The film is funny and has a lot of light moments to it as well which is mainly because of its two main band-mates: Robb Reiner and Lips. These guys have been rockin’ for so many years and it’s great to see a real friendship that has actually stood the test of time. Lips is probably one of the most likable dudes I have seen come from any metal band and his smile and happy-go-lucky persona is almost infectious. Robb Reiner on the other hand, is a little bit of a dick and I couldn’t say that I liked him all that much considering he was probably stoned throughout the whole film. I’m not just saying this to say it either, it honestly looks like he’s smoking up a J in one scene, but then again, I could be wrong.

This is some fairly predictable stuff here but what really works is that even though you know how it’s going to go and how it’s going to end, you still can’t help but think, “damn, I can do this too if I just put my heart & mind to it”. I have been in a band before (and sort of still am) and to see these two buddies who never give up and always try to play wherever they can, is a true inspiration not only to me, but it should be to anyone else who has ever wanted to pursue a dream of their own. It doesn’t always need to be about the money, the women, the drugs, or even the parties, it needs to be about the heart that you have inside of you and whether or not it’s dedicated to the one thing you want to do the most. Never in my right mind would I have actually thought that a Canadian metal band would have gotten me talking like this again, but damn do I feel jammin’ with my buddies now.

Consensus: Even if it is predictable, Anvil! The Story of Anvil is still a heart-warming, tender, sometimes very funny, and insanely inspirational rockumentary that’s all about what it takes to achieve your dreams and how much heart you actually have. Also, don’t be surprised if you start singing “Metal on Metal” afterward because I caught myself doing the same thing. Hell, I still am!

9/10=Full Price!!



  1. Hey Dan. This is one of my favorites and I believe that you’ve capture the escence of the film quite nicely. Thanks.


  2. After a weekend of watching docs at IFF Boston I’m a bit burned out, but when I regain the motivation I’l have to check this out. I do like music docs and movies about bands in general.

  3. SO glad you liked this one Dan. Its really more of a human spirit movie than a heavy metal movie. The ordeals that these guys went through would make any number of lesser people quit. Like you said, you have to appreciate the heart that these guys show…

    Nice pick Dan, nice writeup.

  4. This is a truly great documentary. Plus, I’m glad Anvil is finally getting the respect they deserve. Good music always last. Something that can’t be said for everything that’s on top 40 radio and VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown. All of those songs that’s playing right now fuckin’ suck.

    • Yeah, a lot of the music we hear in today’s day and age, rather blows, but there are always warm reminders out there, such as this, that remind us that it’s not all bad. Thanks Steve!

  5. I don’t even remember where I first heard about this movie, but I’ve been looking forward to seeing it for quite a while now… and considering I don’t normally watch documentaries, that’s saying something. I hadn’t heard of Anvil before I heard of this film, still haven’t heard their music. But the idea that a band could have come so close to making it big but didn’t is so classic storybook that seeing it for real (especially in a musical genre I like) sounds fascinating.

    • It’s a fascinating watch that shows what it’s like to want something so bad, that you can never, ever stop to achieve it. Great flick. Definitely check it out Morgan!

  6. Great film; never heard of this band until documentary. The scene when Lips is recording in London and breaking down nearly crying and struggling to maintain a bond with his bandmate and friend is gut wrenching. The scene is thoroughly engaging and shows this pic is about driven people born to be artists. A truly fascinating flm; nice post.

  7. Before seeing this I had heard it was an uplifting story about a band with a never say die attitude. When I actually watched it I saw a kind of depressing story of a band that couldn’t see that they had had what little success they were ever going to have and were just divorced from reality. I’ve got a cousin who’s a great guitarist. He’s now in his forties and he’s still trying to play for somebody, anybody, that will have him. He’s given up any number of chances at decent jobs or relationships because of it. The guys in the movie reminded me of him.

    I also wonder how many of the scenes were set up by the director because there were tons of parallels to Spinal Tap (getting lost on the way to the show, playing a “huge” concert with 100 people there, starting out big and petering out towards the end of a tour, a tour manager who was clueless, band members who spoke about the meaning behind their own lyrics that were the equivalent of Spinal Tap’s “Lick My Love Pump”, heck, even a band member named Robb Reiner.

    The director also changed some events around in order to give the film a happy ending. The Japan show was in the middle of the timeline, not the end.

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