REEL CRITIC:

If you're like me and your ideal Saturday night is spent watching “That Metal Show” and “Metal Mania” on VH1 Classic, then I've got the movie for you — the rocking new release “Anvil: The Story of Anvil.” Fans of heavy metal and offbeat documentaries will demand an encore when the 90-minute film ends, but everyone else will appreciate this unique new release.

When Robb Reiner and Steve “Lips” Kudlow were 14, growing up in Canada, they created a band called Anvil and vowed to become mammoth rock stars and live life by their own terms. Little did they know, after 40 years, they'd still be waiting for their ship to come in. “The Story of Anvil” reminds us that it's a long way to the top if you want to rock 'n' roll.

I know what you're thinking, “Matt, I don't want to see a movie about heavy metal.”

I don't blame you, but “The Story of Anvil” uses only hard rock to document what it's like to be an artist who has seen success all around him but never experienced it himself. This is exactly what is going on in Robb and Steve's life. I haven't been grinding away as long as these 50-something-year-old guys, but I feel their pain.

The director, Sasha Gervasi, does a wonderful job of telling the entire back story of the band and how Sasha originally got involved with the group back in 1985 as a 16-year-old roadie. I saw this movie with two music executives, and even they didn't realize the amount of influence Anvil has had on the world of rock music.

Unfortunately, industry greed and poor management have left Reiner and Kudlow on the verge of personal and financial collapse.

The two longtime and longhaired rockers decide to go for one more shot at glory and pool all their resources to create their 13th CD.

Will this collaboration save their careers or doom the friendship? Does the world really need or want another Anvil CD? At what age should you quit when you haven't “made it”? The R-rated film answers these questions using humor and heartbreaking poignancy. You may not dance to Anvil's music when the final credits roll, but you'll surely find the message in tune if you've ever struggled to reach your goals.

Technically, the “rockumentary” hits on all chords, and the production looks and sounds fantastic. A large portion of the movie follows Anvil while they are on tour in Europe and Asia. Cinematographer Christopher Soos captures the desperation of the band as they play for a handful of fans and struggle with foreign languages and inept promoters.

If you've been a member of a rock group, you can't miss this movie, but you should purchase your tickets ASAP because the film will have only a limited run in Los Angeles.

A common misconception is that “The Story of Anvil” is a piece of fiction, like the 1984 movie, “This is Spinal Tap.” This couldn't be further from the truth, but at times the movies are eerily similar.

There are numerous funny moments, but the band is not in on the joke. Surprisingly, my audience actually had females in attendance. A very important part of the film tells the story of the women who are in love with Steve and Robb and how difficult it is to raise a family while Dad is trying to be a rock star. These scenes will pull hard on your heartstrings. The rocker chick sitting next to me was actually crying, and it wasn't because an Anvil power ballad was playing.

Speed metal isn't everyone's cup of tea, but “The Story of Anvil” will make your entertainment cup overflow if you remove your earplugs and open your mind to a new experience.


?MATT BELLNER is an actor and one time music librarian from Burbank.

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