Monday, April 6, 2020

The Road to Edmond - a film review

If you’ve spent a lifetime undoing the self-loathing that comes from growing up in a fiercely homophobic environment created for the most part by toxic religion, you naturally want to applaud when a Christian shows up who clearly wants to detoxify his church. Even if your main issue with the church is its irrational faith-claims, and not its homophobia or its pre-modern patriarchal culture, you still want to recognize a friend when you see one. After years of church-bashing, I always welcome the opportunity to cultivate a more nuanced view of organized religion, shun the Bible-thumpers, and seek common ground with the seekers.

That’s the approach I’d like to take with Tripp Fuller, the co-author of Transforming Christian Theology and the man behind the pro-gay film I came across the other night on Amazon Prime Streaming entitled The Road to Edmond. I’d love to embrace the theology student and thank him for his efforts.

My problem is I love movies. And in evaluating them, I think they should be judged as works of art by world-class standards, and not let off the hook when they flop. The Road to Edmond is a really bad movie, amateurish, plodding and way too long.

Fuller himself play Larry, one of the two characters in the story, a pastor who meets the other character when he runs over his bike and offers to take him where he is going as a way of making up for his carelessness. The other character is Cleo, another pastor, a youth minister who has been furloughed by his church for telling a lesbian teen that God loves her just as she is, rather than following the church’s practice of admonishing young people to stop being LGBT and get right with the Lord.

The film is painfully didactic from end to end, and the undisguised effort to accomplish what progressive Christians might call putting Christ back into the church makes this a message movie, not a work of art. The theological questions that pop up here and there are answered with unhelpful slogans rather than clear thought, so what might be a portrayal of a troubled soul turns out instead to be a preaching of dull sermons to the choir.

I won’t reveal the surprising plot twists - to give credit where credit is due - in case you want to watch this flop despite my criticisms. Gay Christians might see things in a different light, and more power to them. 

An A for effort. A C-minus for the finished product.

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