Well, where is he? I don’t know, you don’t know and the American government sure don’t seem to have the answer. Maybe Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock can uncover the truth in this documentary. If he doesn’t, and I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to tell you up front he won’t, maybe he can teach us a little something about American foreign policy and the conflict in the Middle East along the way.
The film starts out promisingly enough. There’s no information presented that is going to be incredibly revelatory to anyone with a passing knowledge of this area, but the background to the situation is presented through catchy, humorous animations. Not hard hitting, but entertaining enough. When Spurlock ventures into the Middle East to carry out his search though, things go downhill once you look past its travelogue qualities.
He unearths some interesting interview subjects, but has an irritating habit of attempting to insert himself into every scene and tell the subjects’ stories for them. Worse still, he has to relate everything back to the fact he is an expectant father while the film is being shot to heighten the drama of his presence in terrorist hotspots. Oh, and the safety of his unborn child in the dangerous modern world is the motivation for embarking on the sojourn. It’s as much of a stretch as it sounds. I’m all for doco filmmakers’ being characters in their own movies, but only if it’s done right. Super Size Me is a good example. Spurlock had a function in that story as the guinea pig of fast food overload and was fitting in the average Joe role. Here though, in an attempt at political insight, he comes across as a poor man’s Michael Moore.
Spurlock’s inherently soft documentary style just doesn’t mesh with political investigation. I blame Michael Moore for inspiring a wave of documentary directors to go out and make sub par vanity projects. Add this one to the pile.