Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? (The Weinstein Company, PG-13)

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Spurlock interviews a wide range of people from an array of socio-economic backgrounds searching not only for Bin Laden, but what these people really think of America, what gives rise to fanatics like Bin Laden, and does the average person support terrorism.

 

Morgan Spurlock the documentarian behind the 2004 hit Super Size Me and the reality television show 30 Days uses the overly simple idea of heading to the Middle East to find the world’s most notorious terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, to examine international relations and global terrorism. Spurlock has mastered the first person documentary style. He puts himself right in the mix and becomes part of the story he is telling. With most other filmmakers this style is grating and annoying, but with Spurlock he is ingratiating and personable. His interview style is light and involving. Spurlock puts his subjects at ease and provides an entertaining show all the while tackling some serious issues.

The genius of Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? is this deceivingly simple question. Spurlock uses the conceit of personally searching for the world’s most notorious terrorist to open a dialogue with people around the world.

Most importantly Spurlock approaches the subject with an open mind. He does not come in with an agenda and he is not trying to prove a point. Spurlock is genuinely looking for answers to difficult questions. He tours the world talking to people from all walks of life. The bulk of the movie takes place in the Middle East and he paints a pretty rich picture of life in the area. The film also functions as a travelogue and provides great snap shots of life in the region. All of the travel and varied locations provide one of the most important insights, that the Muslim world is a diverse place with a range of peoples, economies, and beliefs.

Spurlock interviews a wide range of people from an array of socio-economic backgrounds searching not only for Bin Laden, but what these people really think of America, what gives rise to fanatics like Bin Laden, and does the average person support terrorism. What Spurlock finds is a rich cultural tapestry and wonderful people who invite him into their homes and speak honestly about American foreign policy, religion, and terrorism. Spurlock asks some difficult questions, and in turn finds deeper questions.

The trip is enlightening and enjoyable and the film is only slowed by the subplot of Spurlock’s wife’s pregnancy. The film actually sets up the adventure as a way for Spurlock to make the world safe for his unborn child. Of course it is much more likely the logistics of the shoot were in place when the pregnancy came up. The entire pregnancy feels shoehorned into the piece, but it is a small part of the movie.

In the end the film does not solve the world’s problems, but it does provide some interesting insight into a multifaceted and difficult problem. It uncovers aspects of the issues many people do not get to see. It provides an honest picture of how others in the world see the United States. And finally it admits the problems are much larger than the hunt for a single man. | Bobby Kirk

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