They were in the thick of that whole 80s "hair metal" craze, touring with Whitesnake, appearing on the same bill with Scorpions, Bon Jovi and the like.
They all but invented thrash metal, with bands from Motorhoead to Metallica and Anthrax happily acknowledging their influence.
"Everybody just sort of ripped them off and left them for dead," marvels Slash, guitarist for Guns'n Roses.
But Anvil didn't die. They just went back to Canada, found day jobs, and clung to their dream, decades after they had any hope of realizing it.
Lead singer and guitarist Steve "Lips" Kudlow drives a delivery truck for a company that caters school lunches. Drummer Robb Reiner operates a jackhammer. Anvil!: The Story of Anvil follows them through a comically dismaying year in which they take one last stab at glory, with a disastrously run European tour, a studio date with the one English producer who "got" them back in the day, who might give them one last chance at a record deal.
The guys come off as an un-ironic Spinal Tap, not realizing the futility of their cause, not seeing how funny it is that a bass player takes up with the idiot Italian tour manager who keeps botching their travel arrangements, not knowing how predictable their meltdown in the studio might be.
But to dream past 50, to keep rocking when they're "too old to rock'n roll, but too young to die" is the feel-good message of Sacha Gervais' cute if predictable documentary.
Screening at: 7:15 Thurs., April 2, Enzian; 10 p.m. Sun. April 5, Regal Winter Park 20.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil -- 4 of 5 stars
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