QUICK SNAP : LIVE FROM ROTTERDAM
Millers and Sons has been in business for three generations. Daryn (Clifford Joshua Young) is a likeable but unlikely runner of the gym. He’s a bit of a weedy and a pushover with a tendency to burst into tears but he’s also got an indomitable spirit and a can do attitude. He’s helped by his no-BS sister Bianca (Carla Classen) and his protective mum (Natasha Sutherland): In addition he has a closely knit team which includes God-bothering weights man Jackson (Siv Negesi) who admires Jesus for his muscle to body fat ratio and Jacques (William Harding), who runs the juice bar and most enjoys turning straight men onto the joy of their prostrate: ‘like a grenade went off in the yoghurt factory’.
Unfortunately, a new gym has opened opposite and the competition – despite having a huge financial advantage – does not play fair. The shark-like Funi, (Hlubi Mboya) the manager of the new place, believes that no one remembers who came second. Driven to buy out Daryn’s gym, she sends in her sister Zintle (Ayanda Seoka) as a yoga teacher to spy on Daryn and his co-workers. Sabotage is part of the plan and Zintle isn’t the only Stars Gyms employee to infiltrate. But Zintle finds her loyalties torn when she begins to feel affection for Daryn and Daryn is almost immediately head over heels. The plucky little family business still has some tricks up its sleeve, embarking on a crowd funder to try to ensure its continued existence.
With Daryn’s Gym Brett Michael Innes has created an immensely likeable comedy. It is inevitably going to draw comparisons with the pithier workplace mockumentaries of The Office and Parks and Recreations. The David and Goliath storyline is fairly rote but serves to justify its 89 minute running time. Nothing is done with the format of the mockumentary either. And there are a few too many poopoo jokes, as much as farts are funny. Its real and enduring strength are in its characters and performances. Young is superbly innocent and adorable as the lead, just like one of the kittens he keeps in the gym. Negesi has a lot of fun with the broader strokes of his character and gets some of the best lines: like his interpretation of the Biblical text ‘man cannot live on bread alone’ as evidence that Jesus believed in a low carb diet.
Ultimately Daryn’s Gym the film is very much like Daryn’s Gym the place: unambitious but friendly and kind hearted and a nice place to spend some time.
The International Film Festival of Rotterdam (IFFR) is an online edition running from 26 January to 6 February.