Cleo (Nathanael Welch) loves his life as a youth pastor, but his support for a teenage girl within his flock puts his job in jeopardy. When the church's Elder Board becomes aware of the situation, he's asked to take two weeks to consider his actions and the impact on his role in ministry.
Distraught by the church's lack of compassion and tact, Cleo grabs a backpack and his trusty bike to hit the road and figure out how to process these developments. His journey takes a turn toward Edmond, Oklahoma, when he hitches a ride from a mysterious traveller named Larry (Tripp Fuller) and his dead father. Larry's intense skepticism along with a string of peculiar signs cause Cleo to question more than his relationship with the teen...he questions the very existence of Love.
Buddy road trip movies are nothing new in cinema but The Road To Edmond is much more than a generic road trip romp. This is a film that queries the structures, highlights the need for wrestling with faith handed down and does so with grace, care and has a smile on its face.
Like any good road movie the scenery is its own minor character and shots of Larry's 'White Lightening' van trundling through the beautiful American countryside is enough to make even the strongest willed among us take to the road Without question however, the star of the show is Fuller's Larry. Channelling a little Jack Black combined with a drop of Zack Galifianakis he is the perfect foil to Welch's straight laced Cleo. Acting a little oddly and incessantly querying, Larry begins to unpick and unravel Cleo's ideology, decisions and logic not in attempt to shame or ridicule him, but more to help him explore what puts meat on the bones of his faith and what he really holds to be true.
The truth of this film is that we all need a little Larry in our lives. Someone who challenges us, holds us to account and opens us up to new ways of thinking. I have been a listener of Fuller's Homebrewed Christianity podcast for several years now and while he is clearly having fun with this character he is also concisely imparting his theology in here too which is no bad thing! Too many 'faith-based' films manipulate and preach but thankfully the film never falls into that trap. The Road To Edmond does not set out with the intention of converting viewers, it simply asks why we hold what believe so tightly and shows the value of having your grip loosened to reveal something broader and deeper than we may have previously considered.
The Road to Edmond is funny, insightful, challenging and if Larry and Cleo ever decide to ride again I will make a point of being there!