PORTLAND — My daughter called the other day.
“Dad, have you heard of Anvil or seen the movie Anvil?”
It’s not uncommon for someone to ask me if I’ve seen this movie or that. Usually I have. This time, I hadn’t. But I knew something about Anvil and know that the documentary received glowing reviews from many of my critic friends.
“I want you to see that band,” she said. “I’m flying to Portland to take you to their concert next Thursday. They’re awesome. The drummer is the best drummer I’ve ever seen.”
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I’m a drummer. I often play professionally. Ouch. That hurt.
I agreed to go to the concert so this week I’m going to see Anvil. Now, I have to see the movie. So I did. That’s the point of this review. It’s on DVD and if you’ve ever dreamed a dream, had a vision for yourself, wanted to reach out and kiss the sky, then see this movie.
Anvil is a metal band. If the popular artists that talk about the band early in the film are to be believed, then Anvil is their inspiration, the best of the best.
I’m not a fan of metal, though some stuff is actually pretty good. The only metal movie I’ve ever seen was Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. It was some kind of boring.
Metal musicians playing we-all-have-to-get-along-and-understand-where-each-other-is-coming-from-and-do-nicey-nice-shit-with-a-councilor just didn’t compute. They should have been screaming at each other, throwing guitars, beer bottles and what not at the wall or their band mates.
Anvil is that kind of band. While they didn’t throw things at each other, the two founding members Steve “Lips” Kudlow — guitar — and drummer Robb Reiner were real people, and behaved monsters of metal are supposed to behave. When it got tense, it really got tense.
When they aren’t nice, they really aren’t nice.
By the way, Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a love story. It’s about two guys who began banging out incredible music at 14 and continue to bang out incredible music at 50. The puzzle is why they aren’t superstars like their brethren. Considering the music I heard on the DVD, they’re as good or better than anyone I’ve heard before.
But I’m not a fan of the genre so I probably don’t count.
I am, however, a fan of inspiring movies. I’m 60. I’ve been a movie critic for 18 years and have dabbled in media other than the Tri-City Herald. I did TV for years and radio. At one time, the manager of one of the TV stations I worked for said they were going to syndicate my television reviews.
It never happened.
But my producer and I kept dreaming and kept sending tapes. After eight years, the idea got bagged when I moved to Seattle. Dreams die hard.
A few years later, I’m back on radio and a few years after that I’m back on TV. Neither of those worked out either.
I’ve always wanted to find a great rock band to join and do weekend entertaining a couple of times a month. That hasn’t worked out either.
I work for myself mostly and, in addition to my weekly column and this blog, I do contract work in communications. One of the things I’ve done that I really love is lobbying in Congress and in a couple of state Legislatures. Talk about fun. And it’s something I’m good at, too.
But pursuits in that arena have hit a dead-end. When that happens, you keep plugging away. You keep reaching for that next rung on the ladder. You keep dreaming.
Many of you do that, too. You dream, you reach, you try and you get smacked down.
That’s Lips and Robb. Their movie takes them to Europe for a disastrous tour that should have netted them big money. Promises of thousands of fans flocking to see them ended up being just a few people in lousy bars and fights just to get paid. Weeks later, they end up back in Canada broke and wondering what happened.
Dreams die hard.
A tape sent to the producer of their first album nets an opportunity for a new, super-professional album and the promise of air play. Promise, hope, more promises, shattered dreams, more promises, more hope.
What shines the brightest is their love of the music and their love for each other. Best friends, brothers, comrades to the end.
The movie takes you up and takes you down. And then up again. Every low note gets a high. Anvil is about dreams. Many of you are about dreams.
What is most wonderful about the movie is why they put themselves through that torture. They love the music. They love each other. They have talent, and talented people are compelled to create. You create because you must create or die.
That’s the bottom line and the reason you’ll love Anvil!, and why I love Anvil and their movie. I can’t wait to see the concert.
Rated R for mature themes and language. It’s out on DVD.
It rates 5 stars on my zero to five scale.