There’s no doubt Morgan Spurlock is a brave man. In Super Size Me, the director subsisted on junk food for 30 days and suffered the consequences. In 2006, after finding out his wife, vegan chef Alexandra Jamieson (who features in his previous effort), is pregnant, Spurlock takes action–John McCain style–to secure a more peaceful planet for his unborn child.
In Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?, he gets his shots, works out, and takes a self-defense class in preparation for a jaunt through Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to track down the Al-Qaeda fugitive (his itinerary neglects Iran and Iraq). With a child on the way, the $25 million reward holds some attraction, but video-game graphics, terrorist trading cards, and action-movie music underline the quixotic nature of Spurlock’s quest.
Similarly, the movie itself is a mixed success. The humor that fueled his first film can fall flat when the stakes are higher. Pop-culture references and serious conversations with concerned citizens make for odd bedfellows. It isn’t that Spurlock disrespects his subjects, but that he tries harder to entertain than to elucidate, and his interviews merely reinforce the notion that people everywhere share similar concerns.
Unfortunately, fellow Oscar nominated filmmakers, like Laura Poitras (My Country, My Country) and James Longley (Iraq in Fragments), already beat him to the punch. Spurlock has also released a book with the same name to expand on themes explored in this somewhat superfluous documentary.