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The Independent Critic

Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Spurlock, Jeremy Chilnick
Rated PG-13
93 Mins.
Weinstein Co.

 "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?" Review 
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Unlike most of America, I didn't really care for Morgan Spurlock's low-budget documentary debut, "Super Size Me."

No, I didn't trash it. It wasn't an awful film. It just didn't strike me as particularly great filmmaking, and I promptly left the film and headed to McDonald's.

Now then, we have Spurlock's second film, "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?"

Don't worry, I'm not heading to Afghanistan.

However, "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?" may just validate my original assertion that Spurlock's filmmaking is more about gimmick than any actual filmmaking gifts.

Quite simply, Spurlock's latest film isn't much more than a gross dumbing down of information that most of us understand already. Furthermore, unless we are to actually buy into the stupidity of Spurlock's repeatedly asking people if they know where Bin Laden is, "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden" is more a travel film than anything resembling political satire.

Albert Brooks handled quite nicely the comedy of cultural differences with "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World." All Spurlock does is, once again, shine the light on himself and he expects all of us to travel along.

Please, friends. This time stay at home.

There little denying that Spurlock is a camera-friendly sort of fellow. His everyguy presence and self-deprecating humor comes of well on film, but in this film Spurlock seems so intent on glorifying himself that the self-deprecation rings false and the self-glorification feels hollow.

The premise behind the film is that Spurlock is now married with a child on the way. He wants to find out about this world in which he's going to raise his child and, somehow, that leads him to traveling through the Mideast asking about Osama Bin Laden.

Unfortunately, Spurlock's conclusions aren't exactly groundbreaking.

Did you know that the situation in Israel is complicated?

Yep, news to me.

Or, did you know that most people in the Mideast have no issue with Americans...just American politics.

Wow, I didn't know that either.

Note my sarcasm, please.

Having financially succeeded with his first film, Spurlock's second film plays like he got turned loose in the techno-candy store for a bit too long. The film is graphics intensive, including a pointless video game featuring Spurlock and Bin Laden doing battle.

In a pointless film, what was the point?

Occasionally, "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?" actually works. Spurlock seemingly has that certain quality that relaxes people and, on occasion, he uses it to draw out insightful and observant comments from those he encounters in the Mideast. All too often, however, Spurlock quickly moves into an unnecessarily comic set-up that instantaneously dilutes his point.

While its ending, in particular, is notably weak, "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden" benefits from Spurlock's relaxed style and overall faith in humanity. While it's painfully obvious he isn't actually looking for Bin Laden as he largely avoids the rather dangerous area where Bin Laden is rumored to be, Spurlock's film is much more a call for peace and tolerance than it is meant to be an indictment of Bin Laden or that area of the world that Americans don't seem to understand and for which we seldom get accurate news accounts.

Lacking the bite of a Michael Moore documentary and the humor of an Albert Brooks film, "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?" isn't likely to stir up any world conflict...but, at least it won't get George W. Bush re-elected.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic