Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?

Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?


Reviewed by: Daniel Hooper

The weight of expectation after Super Size Me must have been truly immense if Morgan Spurlock thought the only way he could beat it was by finding the world most wanted man. Under the hokey subtext of protecting his unborn child, Spurlock travels across the Middle East on the search for his elusive target, finding the real people of the region instead of the media presented boogey-man. Sadly in Where On Earth Is Osama bin Laden, not only does he fail at finding Bin Laden but also at matching Super Size Me as a piece of populist entertainment with a informative message to convey and impact to make.

Part of the problem is his crass approach to an important subject matter. From the outset, Spurlock uses a video game-style animation to frame his narrative with the noble aim of trying to appeal to as many people as possible; sadly the style looks cheap and nasty, and outdated compared to modern games. Though humour is an important tool for spreading a message, here it seems the light-hearted tone clashes with the hard-hitting issue. One of the wonderful things about documentary is their ability to chart their maker’s travels as well as their encounters, but the choice of moving locations via a game menu distances the sense of reality and omits a journey which could have presented another side of the Spurlock persona and a sense of the man's mission.

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The stylistic problems are further heightened by the number of repetitive encounters Spurlock has with people from the region. Though Spurlock meets a number of charming locals (as well as hostile Orthodox Jews), Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden lacks the important voices of the region; more importantly, it lacks people who can provide knowledge not only on the whereabouts of bin Laden but also the mindset and history of this monstrous person. As a consequence, the interviews predominantly seem to hammer home the same message that the region dislikes the American foreign policy but not its citizens, and that these people have the concerns that the Western society has, too.

At the beginning, Spurlock observes that action movies have taught him that the big problems are solved by one man, and this actio- hero approach is somewhat confirmed by his contrived approach to his wife’s pregnancy. But instead of coming across as an action hero protecting his wife and kid, the normally likeable Spurlock feels more like a manchild on the run from his husbandly duties and one lacking the quips of John McClane. Where On Earth Is Osama Bin Laden may enlighten some about Middle Eastern culture but for most this documentary will seem like common sense, lacking the depth necessary to explore this complex subject matter.

Reviewed on: 12 Sep 2008
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Morgan Spurlock goes in search of the al-Qaeda leader.
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Read more Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden? reviews:

Amber Wilkinson ***

Director: Morgan Spurlock

Writer: Jeremy Chilnick, Morgan Spurlock

Starring: Morgan Spurlock

Year: 2008

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: France


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