Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?

2008, Movie, PG-13, 93 mins


Blatantly designed to capture the deficit attention of the dumbest of the dumb via animated sequences, cheap irony and "can you believe it" observations about "scary" foreigners, this follow-up to SUPER SIZE ME (2004) could as easily be called "Spurlock: Cultural Learnings Of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of America."

About to become a father for the first time, East Village prankster Morgan Spurlock is terrified of raising his child in an ever-more-threatening world in which no one seems capable of stopping Osama bin Laden from masterminding terrorist attacks on America and Americans. So he decides to make a film about the failed search for the Al Qaeda mastermind… and if you believe that, you might want to invest in a surefire business opportunity like, say, an open-bar strip club in Saudi Arabia. Spurlock's real subject is the ignorance of average Americans when it comes to the mix of political, socioeconomic, historical and religious factors driving terrorist cells throughout the world, particularly the degree to which decades of self-interested foreign policy have created a poisonous wellspring of anti-American sentiment throughout much of the Muslim world. Spurlock isn't being disingenuous when he asks random Moroccan rug salesmen and Saudi mall shoppers if they know where Bin Laden is hiding -- he's punking them in hopes of eliciting the kind of responses that might convince America's unwashed that most Arabs aren't fundamentalist suicide bombers. They're regular folks, just like us: They want to feed and educate their children, enjoy the freedom to elect their governments and control their destinies, worship as they please and live in harmony with their neighbors near and far. Meanwhile, Spurlock's ever-more-pregnant wife, Alexandra Jamieson, awaits his return, hoping that he'll be back by the time the baby comes: If he's not, she's going to be really mad.

Spurlock's observations and points are infinitely valid: Bin Ladin is less important than the network of Al Qaeda cells whose jihads he inspired; many -- if not most -- Arabs can distinguish between the American people and the American government; addressing the entrenched poverty and hopelessness that fuels the flames of anti-U.S. fervor matters more than killing the Taliban; making backroom political alliances with brutal dictators who promise to support U.S. business interests always backfires. But the message is wrapped in facile video-game imagery, snarky commentary and simplistic sequences in which Spurlock enjoys the hospitality of Muslim families who decry terrorism and remind him that the Koran preaches hospitality and confidence. If only there were more footage like the one in which Spurlock-the-rube talks to an impoverished Afghan farmer about Bin Laden. "F--k him," the old man replies. "And f--k America." That's a response that sums up centuries of living at the bottom of the food chain. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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