No one’s choice as an intelligent ambassador to the Middle East, Super Size Me’s Morgan Spurlock aims his latest docu-stunt at those who haven’t read a newspaper since the Clinton administration. Unconvincingly framed as an act of conscience—Spurlock’s wife is pregnant, and he’s wary of bringing a child into a world where terrorism exists—the movie chronicles the director-impresario’s efforts to find Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking members of Al Qaeda.
Before he launches into his tour, though, Spurlock acclimates us to his accustomed level of narcissism. He gets vaccinated (hey, it’s the doctor from Super Size Me!) and takes a ludicrous class in self-defense training. Then it’s off to Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, with each country’s visit accompanied by a consistent level of insight: “We’ve been in Egypt, talking to people, who are real people, just like you and me.”
Spurlock’s self-conscious doofus shtick won’t do much to improve perceptions of Americans abroad; what he learns is that poverty is rampant, and that many of those “real people” would be thrilled to see bin Laden brought to justice. One professor suggests that bin Laden essentially legitimized an American presence in the Middle East—an insight to which Spurlock might as well respond, “Would you like fries with that?”