The comparison is inevitable. You've got an aging metal band, a laughably botched tour, amps that go to 11, even a visit to Stonehenge. And while a real-life version of This is Spinal Tap might sound pretty awesome, Anvil! The Story of Anvil is made even better by its differences.

The comparison is inevitable. You've got an aging metal band, a laughably botched tour, amps that go to 11, even a visit to Stonehenge. And while a real-life version of This is Spinal Tap might sound pretty awesome, Anvil! The Story of Anvil is made even better by its differences.

The band Anvil is more should-have-been than has-been. They were on the crest of an '80s heavy-metal wave that broke without them. In opening testimonials, rockers including Lars Ulrich and Slash tout the band's influence and wonder why they never tasted the success of their contemporaries.

Now in their fifties, singer-guitarist Steve "Lips" Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner (more Spinal Tap mojo?) are still clinging to the dreams of rock godhood they shared when they met at age 14.

While the laughs in Anvil! are plentiful - a fan earnestly headbanging in an easy chair at a sparsely attended show comes to mind - what's more unexpected is how moving it is. Director Sacha Gervasi celebrates the band's seemingly misguided optimism rather than mocking it, and the results are as infectious as one of Lips' goofy grins.

One of the funniest, sweetest and most touching movies of the year also happens to be a documentary. And it goes to 11.