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Documentary - Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?

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Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?
Directed by Morgan Spulock
Genius Products / The Weinstein Company 2008
93 minutes

The DVD jacket does Where In the World Is Osama Bin Laden? a great disservice labeling it "hilarious comedy". This extraordinary documentary is no joke.

Yes, Spurlock has quite a sense of humor and there are some very funny moments but this DVD is a serious documentary that elegantly makes its points without playing wack-a-mole a la Michael Moore.

With Where In the World Is Osama Bin Laden the filmmaker behind Supersize Me proves he is not a flash in the pan. Where Michael Moore uses sarcasm, set-ups, cute tricks, and pomposity to get the viewer to agree with him, Morgan Spurlock uses a soft, humanistic approach that makes his documentary an easy and fascinating movie to watch.

When he learns he is going to be a father Morgan Spurlock automatically wonders what kind of world his child will come into. Figuring life is like an action movie where a lone man can conquer evil he sets out to find Osama Bin Laden. In reality, the filmmaker is really out to understand Islam but nobody would buy a DVD titled Understanding Islam --everybody would believe it was fiction and not a documentary.

It is most ironic (or an anti-semitic conspiracy, depending on how you see it) that the only time Morgan Spurlock faces direct enmity or violence is when he tries to talk to Orthodox Jews in Israel.

The most surreal moment in Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden is when Spurlock goes to Saudi Arabia. Talk about a bunch of, as Bush would put it, "freedom haters". A close second is his visit to Pakistan.

You have to give the documentarian due credit. He actually goes to Afghanistan. He does not find Bin Laden but does show, once again non didactically, that what we hear about the place is very different from what is happening there. This even if you do not get your news from FOX.

Where Is Osama Bin Laden? a brilliant documentary by Morgan Spurlock, does not find the guy. It also fails to give the kind of ray of hope Spurlock probably hoped to give at the beginning. Yet, it does make the viewer a little less cynical at hearing "Islam is peace".

Extra features on the DVD include: Alternate ending; Animated history of Afghanistan; Interview with Israeli President Shimon Peres; Interview with former IRA leader Martin McGuiness; Interview with Egypt's democracy activist Saad Ibrahim; On being a woman in Saudi Arabia, Secret meeting at the Watergate Hotel.

The Watergate Hotel bit is the only moment where Spurlock becomes silly, does a Michael Moore, and loses credibility. He talks to an important guy at the CIA but does it with echoes of Dep Throat and the X-Files' Cigarette Smoking Man.

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