Movie Review: 'Leaving Limbo' Waking After 19 Years

Authors and media representatives occasionally contact me to review their book or movie. Ninety percent of the time I say "No". I don't decline their request to be unkind, but most often the reasons are: I have to manage my time wisely due to the effects of my rare metabolic disease; we have different theological views and I don't enjoy writing a bad review just because I don't agree with a non-essential; and finally, I can't recommend the book or movie because I didn't really like it and don't desire to discourage a brother or sister in Christ simply because their work didn't interest me.

When I was contacted by Sandy Boikian, the writer, director and co-producer of  "Leaving Limbo", I actually said, "Yes" and I'm delighted I did.

"Leaving Limbo" is an honest and refreshing look at the life of its main character, Monica (Mandy Brown), who has miraculously awaken from a 19-year coma. It was based on the stage play "My Wonderful Coma" by the same playwright Sandy Boikin.

While waking from a 19-year coma might seem outrages to most, it's not unheard of. As a matter of fact, if you search the internet about long term coma survivors, you'll read stories about people like Mr. Jan Grzebski, a Polish man who woke from a 19-year coma after being hit by a train. Mr. Grzebski was happy to wake up and find that communism no longer ruled and there was plenty of food for everyone.

Genre: Inspirational Drama
MPAA Rating: NR
Run Time: 94 minutes plus extras
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Awards: Click here
Produced by: Bruised Reed Productions, LLC (Sandy Boikian, Lisa Boore Lambert)


The movie opens with Scripture, Joel 2:25, on a black screen, then fades to a 1989 scene where four high schoolers (Monica, Ben, Tuesday and Wallace) are at the movie theater on a double date. Later, overly confident and loud Wallace drives recklessly causing a serious car accident.

Nineteen years later, while Monica lies lifeless in a hospital bed, we hear the cheerful voice of her nurse Rosa (Amy Mathieson) chatting away about her life. Rosa endearingly calls Monica "lamby" and we see her fixing Monica's hair, doing her nails, dressing her for different occasions, taking pictures, etc. over the course of 11 years.

Then one day, while Rosa is chatting and caring for Monica...she wakes up.

When Monica discovers she's been in a coma for 19 years, she's understandably in tears. Overwhelmed she went to "sleep" as a 19-year-old and woke up as a 38-year-old; no longer engaged to her high school sweetheart and having to face the reality that her niece is mentally and socially older than she is, drives Monica into a whirlwind of selfishness and anger.

Monica is incensed that her fiancé Ben (Elias Cecil) and best friend Tuesday (Noelle Perris) didn't stand by her bedside, but quickly forgot about her and went on with their lives.

Though her loving and selfless father Jack (David Fruechting) and adoring niece Jordan (Lauren Montgomery) stood by her side for 19 years, praying and believing God would work a miracle, Monica is still brooding. She spends the first portion of the movie talking like an '80s teenager and behaving like one too...selfish, loud, immature and envious of everything others have rather than be grateful for all that's beautiful in her life.

As the movie works through the true turmoils someone in Monica's situation might experience, it continually weaves in the message of forgiveness, gratitude and a trust in God's sovereignty even, or rather, especially when we don't understand why some things happen.


Though this movie is not marketed/categorized as a Christian film, I love that it opens with Scripture and rightly displays Christian love, forgiveness (except in one scene), peace, patience and ultimately hope in God's infinite goodness and wisdom rather depending on our finite ways and perspective.

I loved the scenes where the Bible was studied, enjoyed and rightly applied to real life situations within the context of the passages shared. I am zealous for the Word of God and sound doctrine; therefore get indignant when God's holy Word and His precepts are marginalized by anyone who erroneously uses the Bible only to make their worldly point.

I enjoyed the comic relief portions of the film, as well as the real and raw emotions displayed by Monica. Rather than portray Monica with a plastic heart and plastic smile, I was delighted to find myself annoyed with her where I should be annoyed, compassionate where I should be compassionate and rejoicing with her where I should be rejoicing.

I liked that Monica's character wasn't perfect, but she was deep enough to finally get it—that her life and the lives of those around her, wasn't all about her and how she perceived things to be. It was refreshing to see her struggle through the difficult realities she had to face and slowly overcome them through the constant encouragement of those around her who continued to live their lives with gratitude towards God.


Often when stage plays are adapted for a movie, it's a plus to have the same actor play the main character (like Robert Preston in "The Music Man"). This proved true for the majority of Mandy Brown's acting for this movie, however, I found Monica's first waking moments to be a bit unrealistic (it seemed canned and rushed); lacking the proper grogginess and confused emotions needed for a 19-year coma patient.

I don't know what order the scenes were shot, but the "pro" of this "con" is, Mandy's acting got better as the movie went on.

As mentioned in my "Pros" above, there was one scene where Christian forgiveness was not inline with the biblical definition of forgiveness. Rather, the worldly one that has crept into many churches, also crept into this movie by way of this one scene.

Monica says to Wallace, "Do you believe God has forgiven you?" to which Wallace answers, "Yes, but I know I have to suffer the consequences for my actions." Then Monica, says, "God has forgiven you. My dad has forgiven you and I've forgiven you. You need to forgive yourself." She had it right...until the last statement. Nowhere in Scripture are we commanded or taught to forgive ourselves.

This unbiblical teaching of forgiving self, puts the focus on the non-existent power of self to provide freedom from the destructive nature and bondage of our sins. If as Christians, we profess that no one can be granted forgiveness from God the Father without repentance and faith in the Son of God, then we must live by the truth that Christ alone has the power to free us from the penalty of our sins. God's grace and forgiveness is more than sufficient for any of us to move on from any devastating circumstance; whether caused by us or others.


I gave "Leaving Limbo" three out of five stars because it's a good, family friendly movie with a mostly good script, a good message, and is a movie I would recommend to others (as I'm doing now). The biblical accuracy on the essentials was a plus, and the majority of the acting was on spot. The camera work, sound and lighting were good too.

There aren't many movies I enjoy watching because the majority of them have been infested with profanity and sexual content which are all unnecessary for one to make a good  movie and tell a good story. So watching a movie like "Leaving Limbo" that grabs your attention and moves your heart, without the employment of any immorality, was very refreshing and entertaining!

It's great to be able watch an engaging movie without feeling like you have to repent and take a shower afterwards.

You can purchase "Leaving Limbo" from these two sources: Leaving Limbo DVD or  Amazon.