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Film / Anvil! The Story of Anvil

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Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a 2008 rockumentary film by Sacha Gervasi. The film follows the life of Canadian Heavy Metal band Anvil, that saw some success in the 1980s, but, unlike their contemporaries like Whitesnake, Bon Jovi or Metallica, never got their big break.

The film follows the band's key members, vocalist and guitarist Steve "Lips" Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner (no, not that Rob Reiner) as Anvil goes on a poorly organized European tour. While it starts out hopeful enough, soon they find themselves playing in small clubs for no more than a dozen people. Back home, they begin working on their 13th album. Things start to look up as they collaborate with renowned producer Chris "CT" Tsangarides, but tensions are rising in the band.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a heartwarming story about two guys who have spent their whole life chasing their dream, keeping at it against all odds out of loyalty to their art and to each other.

"Tropes! The Story of Tropes":

  • Bar Brawl: Lips gets in one when he realizes he isn't getting paid for his gig.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Don't refuse Lips his pay for playing a gig.
  • Black Sheep: When Lips' siblings are being interviewed, on-screen text shows they are all well-educated professionals. They note that Lips was never interested in following the conventional path and would have always pursued the arts, no matter what.
  • Book Ends: The story begins and ends with a concert in Japan.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At the gig where the band wind up not getting paid, we see a nerdy looking guy in a suit and glasses having a great time in the crowd. After the Bar Brawl, he swoops in and gives them his business card - turns out he's a lawyer!
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Lips sure knows how to drop 'em when he's mad.
    Lips: You fuckin' piece of shit, you fuckin' pay me!!! I fuckin' worked!!
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The title.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Robb is about to give up on Anvil in the process of recording This Is Thirteen. Lips and CT talk him out of it.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Washed-up hard rock band, struggling to get some love and respect, is saved by Japanese fans - Again!
    We're going to do it together. We're gonna get there. We're going to fucking do it. Since we were fucking 14 years old, and here we sit in our fucking fifties, man... We're gonna be rock stars!
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Lips is shown working as a delivery driver for a catering company. Downplayed, in that he acknowledges it's a humble life, but points out it's also an honest one that's allowed him to own a home and raise a family.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-Universe. This trope's other name "Big in Japan" figures literally as the band finds more success there than at home.
  • Gilligan Cut: One member of the band, standing outside of a club, says that the place is totally packed. Cut inside to Anvil playing their set to about four headbangers, one of them sitting in an office chair.
  • Glory Days: That festival in 1984, when they shared the stage with Whitesnake, Scorpions and Bon Jovi. Anvil was the only band on stage that didn't make it big.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Lips and Robb.
  • Hot-Blooded: Lips is as emotional as you'd expect from a metal singer.
  • Humiliation Conga: One misfortune after another keeps befalling the band. It's no wonder that Anvil has been referred to as "The real-life Spinal Tap."
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Somewhat tragic example. For various reasons, they just missed grabbing the brass ring in the 80s, and Lips still believes they could hit the big time if circumstances were right. Luckily, the film itself gave them a bit of a boost.
  • Nice Jewish Boy: Lipps and Rob are both Jewish and are shown to be very friendly, easy going and well spoken. Though Lipps does let his anger get the better of him several times throughout the movie, but never without some very serious provocation.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Anvil have to sell the best-sounding album of their careers independently, and are still struggling to make any kind of name for themselves, but, being Determinators, they keep at it for the good times... like bringing the house down at the Japanese festival at the end.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Director Sacha Gervasi crafts the movie in such a way that the audience isn't sure if Anvil is for real or if the whole film is some sort of elaborate hoax, intended as an affectionate parody of rock documentaries. This is intentional.
  • Rockumentary: A deconstruction, sort of. This is what happens when Spinal Tap happens in real life, and it's not pretty.
  • Shout-Out: At one point, CT Tsangarides turns one of the volume knobs up to eleven. Also, they visit Stonehenge.
  • Toilet Humor: Robb, an art collector, has a painting of a turd in his house for reasons that are never explained. Unsurprisingly, his wife demanded that he put it where guests wouldn't see it. Also mentioned are the infamous "vibrator solos" that Lips used to do.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Robb mentions that he and Lipps have gotten into physical confrontations more than once over the years, and they also have a very heated argument while recording for their new album. Despite this, the two are as close as brothers and are practically inseparable.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Of course, it doesn't have Anvil's resurgence of attention after the film's release, but it did announce their 14th album Juggernaut Of Justice, and point out that Anvil eventually did settle their dispute with that club in Prague.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Lips and Robb have now been able to quit their day jobs and live off music.