American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
This is the sound of optimism: "Everything on the tour went drastically wrong. But at least there was a tour for it to go wrong on." The optimist is Steve "Lips" Kudlow, lead guitarist in Anvil, a band you've never heard of. In 1973, he made a friend named Robb Reiner in Toronto, who had a drum set, and they vowed to make rock 'n' roll until they were old. Now they are old, at least for heavy metal rockers.
"Anvil! The Story of Anvil" is a documentary about the moderate rise and long, long fall of their band, where musicians in the two other slots came and went, but Lips and Robb rocked on. "How many bands stay together for 30 years?" asks Slash of Guns N' Roses, in a backstage interview. "You've got the Stones, the Who, U2 -- and Anvil." Yeah. And Anvil.
Anvil had one modestly successful album ("Metal on Metal"), is credited as an influence by lots of heavy metal bands, had bad management, lousy record labels and was Canadian at a time (as now) when that doesn't feel synonymous with heavy metal. "I was raised to be polite," says Reiner, after he fails at a job in telephone hard selling.
Reiner is also seen working on a demolition project. Kudrow drives a delivery truck carrying school meals and explains the menu. One day maybe lamb stew and meatloaf. Then meatloaf and pizza. Then pizza and lamb stew. He burns with the original fire: The band will, will, will win the success it deserves.