Nope, not over there. From the beginning scene of a high-tech animated version of director Morgan Spurlock battling Osama Bin Laden to the ending credits of smiling head-shots set to Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?", this movie pummels humanity down our gullet. The message is poignant, the trip around the Middle East is entertaining, but Spurlock himself is distracting and irritating as the somewhat perplexed interviewer - teaching us nothing really new.
Believing the world will be a better place for his yet-to-be-born child, Spurlock sets out to find Bin Laden, or at least shed some light on his whereabouts. He leaves behind his pregnant wife, resulting in some unnecessary interludes of cuteness. Soon he's in the Middle East doing the-man-on-the-street shtick, coming off as a somewhat bewildered news journalist. For the most part, he seems at a loss for words and charisma. His monologue in the rubble of a recently blown-up classroom teeters on sheer ignorance - although entering this dangerous territory may qualify him as the bravest dweeb around. Even with his dopey monologues and annoying laugh, he manages to get a positive message across - that we're all in this together, aren't we?
Spurlock provides a postcard study of Egypt, Morocco, Israel, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He interviews Muslims, activists, religious leaders, embedded troops, journalists and relatives of known Al Qaeda terrorists. Heck, he even goes to Tora Bora and Osama's cave.
It's sobering to see sites such as the "security" wall around the Gaza Strip and Hassidic Jews pushing Spurlock around to get him off their street...There's no denying the friction, which stems from centuries of political, ideological and theological oppression. But Spurlock acts as if he has never read the news, and seems befuddled at the whole deal - not what you would call an authoritative narrator.
Most of the people Spurlock visits conclude that the American people aren't bad, it's the politics and the government that are to blame for our negative influence and image. No one knows where Bin Laden is. But everyone seems to agree that it doesn't matter whether he's alive or dead. The problems of the world do not belong to one evil man, they are the product of centuries of unrest. It's also unanimous that the global war on terror is achieving nothing.
This movie is about beliefs. Most people all over the world with the exception of a few nut-jobs want the same things: decent lives with their families and peace on earth, and, no, we're not quoting the Miss America beauty pageant here.
Maybe it's worth repeating that America needs a new strategy in the war on terror. But it's already been documented that Al Qaeda, and radical Islam, are globalizing, getting stronger than ever. While this movie gets that point across, Spurlock isn't really breaking any ground here. Instead we see people who clearly are not devils conversing with an American dork who is seemingly astonished at everything he encounters. "Where is Osama" is interesting but, unlike Spurlock's Supersize Me, it has no real bite.
Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden ★★✩✩
Starring Morgan Spurlock. Directed by Morgan Spurlock. Rated PG-13