Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock makes the giant leap from McDonalds to the Middle East in “Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?,” his directorial follow-up to 2004’s Oscar-nominated “Super Size Me.” However, unlike Spurlock’s critically acclaimed expose of the fast food industry that became the eighth-highest grossing doc of all time, his globetrotting quest to find America’s arch enemy took a beating by critics and at the box office.
And while the “Super Size Me” DVD became part of the health class curriculum at high schools across the country, the homevid release of “Osama” is likely to be as hard to find as the Al-Qaeda leader in the caves of Wajiristan. That’s a shame, however, because Spurlock’s at times naive but always sincere take on the War on Terror could be a valuable educational tool for the short-attention span generation.
Special features include all-too brief and rather one-sided interviews with political leaders and activists. The interviews were each edited down to under four minutes, which is too bad because the point of DVD extras is to give auds access to extended content that didn’t make the final cut.
Also, Spurlock’s leftist tendencies are no secret, but even Michael Moore manages to confront those on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum in his documentaries. I’m sure Bill Krystol or Richard Perle would have been happy to provide some insight from the other side of the argument.
Given that glaring omission, the interviews all provide interesting insight. Perhaps the most compelling is a chat with three young Saudi women about the treatment of females in the kingdom. They lament the segregation of the sexes in Saudi Arabia, including the separate public facilities for men and women, which are eerily reminiscent of the Jim Crow south.
The most humorous featurette is a recreation of the famous scene from “All the President’s Men” in which Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward first meets Deep Throat in an underground parking garage. Spurlock interviews Michael Schauer, former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit, in the garage of the Watergate Hotel.
Other interviewees include former Irish Republican Army leader Martin McGuinness, Egyptian civil rights and democracy activist Saad Ibrahim, and former prime minister and current president of Israel, Shimon Peres.
Two poorly animated and preachy extras — alternate ending and history of Afghanistan — are more annoying than educational.