This doc about a man posing as a student doesn’t graduate with honors the way it should.
When you hear the name “Brandon Lee,” you’ll soon learn that “My Old School” is not a documentary on the late martial arts actor, but rather a Canadian school pupil in Glasgow, Scotland, who turns out to be a 30-year-old imposter, who wasn’t even Canadian. This doc informs us that the real Brandon Lee didn’t want to be seen on camera, but allowed the filmmakers to use his voice recordings, and that’s why Alan Cumming lip syncs them, while he voices his animated caricature.
“My Old School” is also supported by animated flashbacks, but I don’t really like its drawing style, which seems flimsy and generic, when compared to the deeply, enriched “Flee.” It’s too distracting from the movie’s narrative about how a man faked his way back in school. As much as I support animated features, on par with live-action movies, I prefer the real segments over the animation in this doc.
And as much as I’m interested in how this real-life story takes place, the movie doesn’t do much justice with it. It doesn’t distinguish well with how the teacher and students react to this deception, and relies on Alan Cumming to sell “My Old School” for Magnolia Pictures. He’s a charming actor, and I’ve met him awhile back, and while he looks smashing enough to lip-sync this character, I felt he could have done more with it.
The boy starts off as a nobody, but he surprises his classmates and teachers with his I.Q.
In one subplot, Stefan was a black kid in his school, who was picked on for obvious reasons, but Brandon was the only one willing to be friends with him. And when Brandon’s popularity caught on, he managed to make sure Stefan wouldn’t be bullied again by the same person.
In another subplot, he lost his family, one-by-one-ending with his grandmother, but his new friends are willing to support him.
And above all, his school master found out he was enrolled in this very school in 1975. That’s when word gets out on the news about his real age, his real name-Brian MacKinnon, and the fact that his grandmother wasn’t really deceased, nor is she is grandmother. He made people believe his mom was his grandmother. Okay, that makes sense.
And then, the movie shows us Brian having an illness that prevented him from doing well in school, which is why he was working as a janitor in a local health club. He was in his 30s, it would be too late for him to go back to school to become a doctor. This is why he returned with the name Brandon Lee by posing as zoologist William Lee on the phone to enroll himself.
“My Old School” has potential and strong interests, and yet somehow, it never really graduates with honors the way it should. It could have been told with integrity and charisma, and since it chooses to be animated on the side, it should have been given a more honest drawing style. It all should have looked as stylish as Alan Cumming is when he’s sitting at a desk with his glasses on.
In Select Theaters Tomorrow