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Film / My Old School

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My Old School is a 2022 Scottish documentary directed by Jono McLeod about Brandon Lee, a sixteen-year-old student at Bearsden Academy in 1993 who seemed a little unusual to his classmates and teachers. This was because Brandon Lee was in fact Brian MacKinnon, a thirty-two year-old man who had previously attended Bearsden Academy in the 1970s.

Provides examples of:

  • Almost Famous Name: In-Universe, Brandon Lee was also the name of the actor and son of Bruce Lee who had died about a month prior to the start of the 1993 school year, which pupils commented on at the time. They also mentioned the other well-known Brandon at the time, namely the character from Beverly Hills, 90210. Coincidentally, there was another pupil in the Fifth Year class who just happened to be called Brian MacKinnon.
  • AM/FM Characterization: The younger Brian was mocked by his classmates for liking 2 Unlimited. He and Donald Lindsay would later bond with Brandon over their musical tastes.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: The epilogue plays out to a cover of "One More Step Along the World I Go" by Blue Rose Code. In context, this takes a children's hymn about going through life under the watchful eye of a benevolent God to a more secular song about how life can allow you to grow and change in ways you might not anticipate if you let it.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Lulu, who voices Mrs Holmes, sings a cover of "My Old School" by Steely Dan which plays during the credits.
  • Eagleland Osmosis: In some instances, it seems that the interviewees have been prompted to use more American school terminology, such as referring fifth year as "junior year" or Mr MacLeod as the "principal" rather than the headmaster or headteacher. This largely falls away as the film progresses.
  • Good-Times Montage: There's one of Brandon and his friends having fun around Glasgow, set to "Do You Remember the First Time?" by Pulp.
  • Karma Houdini: There were no legal charges brought against Brian, something which the interviewees are conflicted about after the fact.
  • In-Series Nickname: The headteacher, Norman MacLeod, was known as "Batman" by the pupils at the school as he was never seen without his cape-like academic gown.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: The interviewees are portrayed in flashbacks using animation in a similar style to Daria.
  • It Meant Something to Me: Stefen's take on the whole affair is that, even if Brian was a fraud, as Brandon, he made Stefen's time at school more bearable and was instrumental in Stefen going on to university to study Pharmacy.
  • Local Soundtrack: The film features new material from Scottish artists such as Lulu, HYYTS and Blue Rose Code, as well as "Rip It Up" by Orange Juice, who were founded in Bearsden where the film is set.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Many well-known newsreaders of the day, such as Jackie Bird, Shereen Nanjiani, Paddy Christie, Viv Lumsden, Eamonn Holmes and Peter Snow, appear in Stock Footage.
  • Poverty Food: The interviewees explain the concept of "Spam Valley", which is a Glaswegian term applied to typically posh areas like Bearsden or nearby Milngavie where many residents would allegedly subsist on a Spam-heavy diet in order to afford a house in the area.
  • School Play: The school staged a production of South Pacific, with Brandon being cast as Lieutenant Cable.
  • Suburbia: Bearsden is an affluent suburb of Glasgow, although the interviewees point out that the population isn't entirely made up of upper-middle-class professionals as its reputation tends to suggest.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The film's main title sequence is soundtracked to a cover of "The Sign" performed by HYTTS.
    • In the animated sections, we see Brandon sharing tapes and records with Brian and Donald such as Everything Falls Apart by Hüsker Dü and albums from Television, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. This sequence is set to "Rip It Up" by Orange Juice, complete with an animation showing the Postcard Records cat on a vinyl record. Other album covers shown throughout the film are Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division, True Confessions by The Undertones, Milo Goes to College by Descendents, Kings of Oblivion by Pink Fairies, Live at the On Broadway by Black Flag and Pink Flag by Wire.
    • The younger Brian MacKinnon has a Whigfield poster next to his 2 Unlimited one.
    • Brandon drives his friends to a showing of Muriel's Wedding at a UTI cinema. The cinema is next door to a branch of City Bakeries, a now-defunct chain of Glasgow cake shops.
    • Someone at laser tag can be heard saying, "Gonnae no' dae that?"
    • Most of the holiday scenes are set to The Macarena.
    • The planes seen in the film apparently belong to a fictional airline called "Scotia Jet", which may be a reference to Air Scotia, the airline in Alan Cumming and Forbes Masson's Sitcom, The High Life.
  • Stern Teacher: Mrs Holmes who, according to the interviewees, played bad cop to Mr MacLeod's slightly less intimidating good cop.
  • Taking the Heat: Mr MacLeod took the heat for accepting Brandon as a pupil, even though Mrs Holmes was the one who conducted the initial interview.
  • Token Black Friend: Deconstructed. Stefen was one of very few pupils of colour in the school and experienced racist bullying from other students, whereas Brandon was kind and friendly towards him, and the two of them bonded over their status as outsiders within the school. Unsurprisingly, Stefen is the one who seems the most cut up about Brian's deception.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The film closes out by combining photographs of the interviewees as teenagers with footage of them going about their present-day lives.