He never finds Osama bin Laden.
Sorry that sentence was not preempted with a spoiler alert, but in Morgan Spurlock's Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?, the least important character is the one in the title. In fact, from the get-go, you know Spurlock—in this first-person, haphazard global trek to find bin Laden—will never find him, let alone figure out what to do with him if he did. (Kill him? Capture him? Defy Islamic law and feed him McDonald's McRib sandwiches for 30 days straight?) No—here, the planet's most-wanted terrorist is just a monolithic figure at the end of the rainbow, one whose appearance is secondary to the film's primary goal, which is examining our country's mangled foreign policy.
This fact isn't lost on Spurlock. The hunt for bin Laden has evolved from a noble effort to capture a mass-murdering terrorist to a never-ending punchline that illustrates how poorly our comedic War on Terror has become, while bin Laden himself has gone from an actual person with a $25-million bounty on his head to a farce along the lines of the contents of Al Capone's vault or the Holy Grail Sippy Cup that Jesus used as a toddler. With US foreign policy ripe for ridicule, Spurlock—with the supposed motivation of single-handedly protecting the planet for his expecting wife and future offspring—embarks on a quest to find the man in the cave, plus do something our government hasn't been able to do: win the hearts and minds of citizens of the Middle East.
Spurlock's clumsy style of filmmaking—which is heavily dependent on narration and cutesy animated interludes—borrows liberally (pun intended) from the Michael Moore playbook, but unlike the rotund product of Flint, Spurlock is unfathomably likeable, the sort of filmmaker you want to share a pint with and wholeheartedly root for on his quest to unearth the most-wanted criminal in the history of the world. Also unlike Moore, Spurlock's tactics are seldom heavy-handed. He seems content with just getting some face time with the disillusioned masses, and maybe shedding some light on why everyone hates us and what went wrong—and while he's at it, playfully asking about where Osama's hiding. Spurlock travels to Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and his inquiries about bin Laden's whereabouts are usually answered with random pointing, laughter, or—my personal favorite—this response from a man in Pakistan: "Fuck bin Laden, and fuck America." That about sums it up.