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Local Mockumentary Daryn's Gym Set to Lift Spirits


Daryn's Gym is a mockumentary comedy from writer-director, Brett Michael Innes, a filmmaker best known for Sink and Fiela se Kind. While his heartrending dramas have come to characterise his genre range when it comes to narrative films, his latest offering is much lighter, probably a good thing considering the pandemic age. As Innes puts it, "the last thing anyone wants to watch right now is a movie about pain" hoping audiences will take solace in the lightness of his comedy much like smash hit TV series, Ted Lasso.

Set at a family gym in Johannesburg, the story follows Daryn Jr. who goes head-to-head with Funi, owner of a multi-national fitness chain. Playing into the classic David vs. Goliath dynamic, or Daryn vs. Goliath in this case, this upbeat and fun comedy sees Miller & Sons fall prey to the ruthless Stars gym as moles are sent in to infiltrate as dirty tactics come into play.

Daryn's Gym stars the easy-going and charming Clifford Joshua Young as Daryn Jr. in his film debut who found the experience to be truly life-changing. When he got the call to say that he'd secured the part, he was literally in a huge glass box doing promotion work at the V&A Waterfront and couldn't believe that an opportunity had finally arrived, saying that having Brett walk this road with him was "a dream come true".

Young's supported by a cast of local favourites including: Hlubi Mboya (I Am All Girls), Natasha Sutherland (Lioness), Deon Coetzee (Dust) and Siv Ngesi (Knuckle City). Produced by Paulo Areal, known for the hard-hitting SAFTA-winning drama Ellen, the duo have gathered some of South Africa's sharpest dramatic actors and are introducing some fresh rising talents.

Daryn's Gym Movie

While Innes admittedly says he "felt out of my depth at times", the critically-acclaimed filmmaker leaned back on his experience in drama to "always pursue truth over a punchline". Pivoting on this bubbly channel of entertainment, he hopes "that the film leaves viewers feeling a little lighter when the credits start to roll". Getting comedy right is much trickier than you'd expect and Daryn's Gym offers something fresh for local audiences who may not be all that familiar with a genre made famous by the likes of Christopher Guest and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Being set at a gym, there's a wealth of comedic scenarios to send up as you may remember from Brad Pitt's depiction in Burn After Reading and many sitcoms such as Seinfeld and Perfect Strangers. One of the tricks is to establish an air of sincerity and self-belief to help foster the right conditions for comedy to bloom. Getting the balance between earnest hilarity and more contrived scenarios is critical in establishing a silly-serious tone. As with The Office, the next step is crafting endearing characters.

Using documentary style camera shots as with Modern Family, it'll be interesting to see how Daryn's Gym fares in a time when the activity of "going to the gym" could use a shot in the arm and a touch of nostalgic magic. The trailer looks promising and whether it's a smash hit or not, there must be some potential for it to become the premise for a local TV series. Who knows? Maybe this little comedy is an undercover pilot.