Paper Heart/Anvil: The Story of Anvil: Which Documentary Has the Real Heart?
These two documentaries, both available on DVD now, were among the very few I got to see this year. Paper Heart follows Charlyne Yi, the funny Asian girl from Knocked Up, as she goes around the country discovering what people think about love, while in the meantime falling for the always-hilarious Michael Cera. It’s a match made in awkward heaven. Anvil: The Story of Anvil follows one of the early influential heavy metal bands that never had their careers pan out the way they wanted, and it shows their continued quest for fame decades later as they drudge through sparsely populated tour dates and butt heads over recording a new album. One of these movies has an immense amount to say about love and passion, filled with plenty of hilarious one-liners, jaw-droppingly funny real moments, and tons of heart. Hint: it’s not Paper Heart.
Paper Heart is a cloying, manipulative, and at the end of the day trying experience to sit through. I like Yi’s bizarre sense of humor, and I’ve enjoyed Cera in almost everything that he’s done, so I figured this film would be a lock for at least some laughs. Unfortunately, it’s so concerned with being cute that any laughs feel processed and manufactured. It also contains some interludes of people they encounter and their stories portrayed through the use of paper dolls (“Paper Heart”… get it?”). These stories are minimally touching, and seem to only be employed in order to show more of Yi’s “quirky” nature and to promote the film’s indie score. Finally, the film’s director, Nicholas Jasenovic, is played by Jake M. Johnson in the movie, making it not a real documentary at all, leading you to question exactly how real any of the good vibes they’re trying to sell you on are. Johnson plays an annoying young director from Los Angeles well… it’s easily one of the easiest performances of 2009 to hate. While Cera and Yi have moments here and there, the film is dull, manipulative, and charmless.
Anvil, on the other hand, is so honest and embarrassing that you can’t help but be charmed by these two men in their 50s who still believe they will be heavy metal stars again. Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner were the founding members of Anvil, one of the founders of the heavy metal movement. Their album “Metal on Metal” brought them a decent amount of success, but then everything went wrong. Bad management, bad promotion, bad labels, and bad geography (they’re Canadian) pushed them far from the limelight. Kudlow and Reiner are family men with day jobs (Kudlow ships cafeteria food from factories to schools), but they still cling to the dream that started when they were kids– that they would be rock stars.
They go on a European tour, where everything that can go wrong will go wrong. You half expect to see some of the set pieces from Spinal Tap– they’d fit in perfectly here. Yet Lips never quits, and continues to insist with as sunny a disposition as you’d expect from a heavy metal rocker that Anvil’s best days are still to come. They connect with an old friend, now a famous metal producer, and record their best sounding album to date… but what label will sign a metal band of two 50-year-olds? It may read as merely a comedy of errors, but it’s actually inspiring. The success of the band doesn’t matter so much as being able to witness two men who clung to a dream and are sticking to it, come hell or high debt. It’s like American Movie (one of the funniest docus I’ve ever seen) in its affection and devotion to the heroes taking the pratfalls, but these guys have felt success and have got the talent, yet they stay humble in the face of adversity. You don’t have to love heavy metal music to be amused and be touched by what these men do in this film. Paper Heart attempts to tell us about love through paper dolls and indie guitar strumming. Anvil SHOWS us love: love of friends, of family, of art, of dreams.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil:
~ by russellhainline on February 10, 2010.
Posted in Film Reviews
Tags: Anvil, Anvil: The Story of Anvil, Canadians, Charlyne Yi, Chris Tsangarides, CT, heavy metal, Jake M. Johnson, Lars Ulrich, Lips Kudlow, Metal on Metal, Michael Cera, Nicholas Jasenovic, Paper Heart, Robb Reiner, Sacha Gervasi, Seth Rogen, Slash, Steve "Lips" Kudlow, Steve Kudlow, This Is Thirteen