The Road to Edmond (2019, Dir. David Trotter) takes viewers on a road trip. It follows the classic buddy film genre. Larry and Cleo cross paths and, with a slight suspension of disbelief, they take off together in a white van. Cleo is a youth minister who gets in trouble before the film begins. His church elders put him “in a two-week Jesus timeout.” The plot seeks to raise questions of faith, sexuality, and Jesus. But, does it?
Questions of Faith
What does it mean to be a minister? How do we know who is right and who is wrong? In the movie, Cleo confronts the nature of truth. He always held one belief, but through Larry realizes that his belief might not reflect who God is or the nature of love in Christ.
We need permission to ask questions of faith. The Bible encourages asking questions and seeking answers. But, tradition and church leaders, like the Pharisees before them, often discourage asking questions. This buddy film gives space for questions and points out the fallacy of putting new wine in old wineskins (Matthew 9.14-17).
Sexuality (spoiler – skip ahead to avoid it)
At the heart of The Road to Edmondis the question of same-sex attractions. It is not really about same-sex relationships or marriage, although both come up. Cleo is from a tradition that prohibits same-sex attraction. Larry leads him to see God’s love transcends human boundaries.
Perhaps the best takeaway from the film is its encouragement to ask questions. The characters grow as they amass shared experiences. They have ups and downs, and it portrays their experiences in an honest, relatable way. It seems to follow one of the common themes in my theology—life is a journey.
For Bible-readers, the filmmakers toss out numerous Easter eggs: Jabez, the Road to Emmaus, Pharisaic hypocrisy, and more. I did not write them down as I saw them. Perhaps, they will create a Road-to-Edmond bingo card for users to mark them as they come up. The biblical parallels are not as important as the experience in a journey of faith and the questions that come up.
- Why do we believe what we believe?
- What are the unintended consequences of belief?
- Who is God calling us to be?
- Does God call me to exclude (or not love) someone for some reason?
As an independent film, The Road to Edmond misses some of the production quality of its bigger budget friends. Early in the movie, I could see it remade and recast with Jack Black in the role of Larry and John Krasinski as Cleo. There is a dream sequence that could use a bit more polish (and maybe some better special effects). However, if it was remade, it might lose some independent quality that would be hard to replace in a major studio production.
Setting these minor criticisms aside, the movie was fun. There were a number of twists and turns. Despite a few words of profanity, I would be comfortable showing it to a church youth group. My family (wife, two teenaged son, and I) enjoyed it on a Friday night.