I will admit from the start that I wasn’t entirely open-minded to Morgan Spurlock’s latest film Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? But in my defense, it is not necessarily based on his politics, but rather on his first film, Super Size Me.
The problem I had with Super Size Me was that he seemed to go after McDonalds with an agenda to get the Super Size items discontinued. I’m a firm believer that if people want to eat 1000-calorie sandwiches and drink 44 ounces of soda, they should be allowed to. Who needs a do-gooder like Spurlock spoiling our gluttonous fun?
However, after seeing Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?, I will admit that it has a nice message, and if it is out to change the world, it’s at least attempting to do so for the better.
In the film, Spurlock discovers his wife is pregnant, and he is confronted by the fears of a first-time father. He’s worried about keeping his child safe, and the thoughts soon point to terrorism. This sends him on a quest to search for the world’s most wanted man – Osama Bin Laden.
The problem I have with the film isn’t his message, but rather his method. With the movie, it seems that Spurlock is out to demonstrate that people are people no matter where they’re from, and the terrorists comprise only a tiny fraction of the Muslim world. And this is true.
However, Spurlock approaches the problem with the suggestion that most Americans believe that all Muslims are terrorists and they wish the death of the entire western world. I don’t care if that’s a misconception that Spurlock has, but that’s not something I believe. And that’s not something that a vast majority of America believes. Sure, there’s prejudice – some warranted and some not – that exist, but I felt Spurlock labeled most of America racist with no proof, evidence or even much thought.
If he would have pointed the finger at the media rather than the audience, I could have taken his position better. But with his presentation, my back was up from the start. I just hate being told what I supposedly think, especially if it’s to say that I and the rest of the people in this country are racists.
The only other real flaw in the film is Spurlock’s goofy elements in the film, or rather the lack thereof. On the whole, I liked the silliness, which includes a video game sequence in which he battles Osama Bin Laden, baseball cards that list stats of all the terrorists and a crash course in survival before heading to the Middle East. The problem I had with this was that he front-loaded the film with the fun stuff, and the rest of the movie plodded along, sometimes preaching and sometimes shaking its proverbial finger at me.
I suppose that Spurlock is going to struggle for years to live down his reputation as a Michael Moore imitator. He follows Moore’s style of fluid narration and scripted stories, but at least he’s not as big of a douchebag as our buddy from Flint. (Sadly, though, Moore is a better filmmaker, which makes his propaganda pieces so irritating.)
Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? is a film that preaches to the choir. It tries to say too many things at times, but ultimately has a good message. Unfortunately, it spends too much time trying to live up to the cool, marketable title when Osama Bin Laden isn’t even the focus of the message.
THE UPSIDE: When you strip away the political posturing and the finger-pointing, there is a good message in there.
THE DOWNSIDE: The film takes the position that everyone in America is a bigot, which just isn’t true.
ON THE SIDE: According to our Executive Editor Neil Miller, the version of this film that was shown at Sundance was longer and would have possibly been rated R.