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Morgan Delivers Osama Bin Laden

Published April 18, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of TWC
Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? Poster Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?
Once again, I have no problems. I live in Hollywood. I interview celebrities. I watch movies. I have Blu Ray, Guitar Hero and a DVR all in my own place. I date strippers. In real life, there are poor people who live with entire families in a 200 square foot room, live in constant fear of bombings, not to mention American kids stuck over there fighting for and against them. I think movies like Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? will always be important to remind Americans how lucky we are.

Review: Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?

Morgan Spurlock has replaced Michael Moore as the real world everyman hero. He uses humor to disarm touchy subjects and gets in the faces of his subjects. Right now, he's still on our level because he hasn't gotten so political yet.

The film opens with some relentless humor with animation and pop culture references. He makes heavy subjects utterly ridiculous with his irreverent techniques. You can't be too scared of a terrorist who's a caricature on a baseball card.

The bulk of the movie deals on the human level. It is rightfully sensitive with scenes of tragedy. Spurlock goes on the populous level of foreign politics, portraying people living in these regions. That is a perspective worth capturing, though it made me a bit more skeptical of the simple animated explanations of U.S. politics.

Looking for bin Laden becomes the thin premise to show humanity abroad, which Americans need to see. It handles Israel fairly, although people with passionate connections to that issue probably won't think so. The film neither coddles nor condemns those perspectives, so anyone who believes that you have to pick a side will hate that. Spurlock lets others speak, so it's not necessarily his view, though he obviously made sure to find at least one example to express each extreme or moderate facet.

It definitely looks bad when the Orthodox Jews fight him. Seeing a camera in their community probably instigates that, and the language barrier doesn't help. I personally have no problem with filmmakers capturing people at their worst, but I'll acknowledge it for the sake of fairness.

Spurlock gets into his own emotional musings, which again is consistent with being the new Michael Moore. He never stayed out of it, so why should Spurlock? It's ultimately what makes these films more engaging than talking head pieces.

He also takes the Michael Moore tact of capturing people refusing to participate, as if that's somehow wrong. Asking for Osama in the mall or supermarket may be funny because it's ridiculous, but it's not productive. What did you expect people to do? Like when Moore "confronted" Dick Clark, like any businessman would give an impromptu interview to Michael Moore?

I may seem underwhelmed by Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?. It's just that it became exactly what I expected. Obviously, we would have heard if he'd found the guy, and obviously, no film was really going to get to that point. So it makes its point a different way and ends up explaining what it's really about, and that's fine. I mean, Supersize Me was no newsflash either, it's just another portrait.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of TWC

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