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Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? Review

A tacky riff on the television show title, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, the rhetorical question at the heart of this Morgan Spurlock documentary is now redundant. Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?, he asks. Dead. At the bottom of the ocean. Where he belongs. Fish food. Spurlock belongs down there with him. Harsh that may be, his feature documentary has aged terribly. From the Street Fighter-inspired opening to the context and core of his travels around the world, Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?, and Spurlock by extension, come across as foolish and annoying. No surprises there. 

His point for hunting down Bin Laden is that he has a child on the way. He wishes to cleanse the Earth of villainy before Spurlock Jr. Joins the world. Noble that cause may be, it is tragic to see Spurlock, once again, utilise his personal life as an emotional draw, rather than the intrigue of his skills. Fact is, he has no skills. He rehashes the same format as Super Size Me, almost verbatim. He visits doctors to check up on his health, despite no changes to his weight or physicality. Instead, he goes to get shots to journey around the world. Why we are shown this is for no good reason. Padding. Security for whether those that ask him what he got up to over summer don’t believe him when he says he “hunted down Bin Laden.” 

He hunts down Bin Laden in the same way he gave McDonald’s a fair trial. Is he even trying? As M.C. Hammers’ Can’t Touch This plays over footage of a computer-generated Osama Bin Laden freestyle dancing, the prospect of Spurlock taking himself or his documentary seriously are thrown out of the window. He believes himself to be a comedian but tries awfully hard to come across as funny. Because of this, his documentary and point have no interest in depicting the facts or the vague intrigue he could have possibly offered. Instead, he is focused far more on cheap gags and poor thrills than actually detailing a compelling narrative.  

Bold it may be to have a teaser trailer for Fahrenheit 9/11 before this cash-in car crash, Spurlock’s aversion to and ignorance of facts and evidence is startling. Here is a man using his budget to fumble around the world in search of a man who not even the U.S. Military could find. That is not the heart of the issue, though. One of the leading, many issues is that Spurlock believes he is up there with the greats of the genre. Fascinating it may be that he uses this as an excuse to fire a rocket-propelled grenade or flounder around battlefields under the pretence of a documentary format, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?’s core issue is its quality. Its point is lacklustre, its evidence wavering, and its core emotional tie is to the premise that we all hate this disgusting terrorist. Spurlock bags himself another easy pass, putting nothing on the line, but this time failing to replicate the sad fascination of Super Size Me 

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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