First he ate French Fries for a month, and now he's taking on the number one fugitive in the world. Yes, it's the natural progression: Morgan Spurlock is asking Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?
I will blow the ending: Spurlock does not answer the question. He doesn't find the guy, which is a bit disappointing since I assumed that would be the only suitable climax to such a film. I mean, he spends all his time asking people in Palestine, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and so forth where Osama is - he should have been able to find him!
In all seriousness, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? is an entertaining, intelligent and down-to-earth documentary. It isn't as funny or mind blowing as Super Size Me, which got me off fast food for a month (and now I barely eat it at all), but WITWIOBL, as I like to call it, works in its own way. Spurlock, as he likes to remind us, leaves his pregnant wife to go travel around some not-so-friendly places in search of Osama, or, more realistically, in search of the average Muslim. The real point of the movie is that most Muslims in the Middle East, while not completely the same as the average American, are not that much different. Some may understand Osama and al Qaeda more than we do, and others hate America for what it has done - or what they perceive it's doing - to the Middle East, but the average Muslim is a moderate Muslim, with no interest in blowing themselves up or joining the jihad.
Spurlock travels from one country to the next, talking with these people and examining both the hypocrisy of Osama and the United States. He touches on the fact that the U.S. doesn't side with countries and their governments because they treat their people well; the U.S. sides with countries and people that provide immediate benefit to their goals. That's why Osama, Saddam Hussein, the Saudi government and many others have all been U.S. allies at some point or another.
Spurlock uncovers nothing new, but for the less-than-worldly American, Spurlock presents the issues at hand in a very entertaining, insightful way. He reveals the people he talks with as smart, likable individuals. He shows us the conditions that people are living in - from the slums of Afghanistan to the shopping malls in Saudi Arabia that, while safer, are much more restrictive. Spurlock asks some moderately tough questions in some awkward places, including to a couple of students at a Saudi school while their teachers are standing by. Understandably, he doesn't get much out of them. Strangely enough, other than the stray bullet here or there, Spurlock runs into the most trouble when a bunch of Jewish people get upset at him and start shoving him around, forcing the police to take action. Those were some angry Jews.
Spurlock is trying to get a message across, but does so in a way that isn't a "liberal" attack on his own country. WITWIOBL is one of those rare political documentaries that crosses party lines. Its faults are pretty minor: it would have been great to see him attempt to interview a few more radicals, or more people of official standing, like politicians or community leaders. The ending is a tad weak, as Spurlock attempts to cover over his cowardness (I wouldn't have gone in either) with a vain attempt at establishing a happy ending. At least end his message with a, "And I was scared" bit.
While not as shocking as Super Size Me, Spurlock's Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? is an enjoyable, intelligent documentary that presents things on a "stupid American" level. And for once, that's a good thing.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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