Movie Review: 'Leaving Limbo' Waking After 19 Years

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August 21, 2014

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.


  1. Bridgett Jones WakefieldAugust 22, 2014 at 6:44 PM

    I humbly ask you this... are you against organ donation? Let's face it.. no one (well... hopefully) kills someone for their organs. If someone passes away, we are willing to help others with their organs. Why do you not see this as the same? Do you honestly think that there are women who are aborting their babies for research? OF COURSE NOT! To put it bluntly.. why throw away the baby with the bathwater? Stopping stem cell research will NOT stop abortions. You know me well enough to know I am pro life. This is NOT a prolife issue.

  2. So, I just have to say...although embryos are innocent and criminals are not, it would be like telling a criminal on death row that after they are killed their organs would be donated to the government for whatever purpose was deemed most needed and they have no say in the matter because, " Why waste?" . We give even common criminals more respect than that.

  3. Would you loot the homes of martyred Iraqi Christians because of a desire not to see their goods "go to waste"? Of course not, that would be considered aiding and abetting a crime.

  4. It is a pro-life issue whether the life is purposely taken just for the research or not! The purpose of this article is to show that there are ways to do the research without using embryonic stem cell or fetal tissue stem cell. It is not the same as an organ donor, because they VOLUNTEER their organs, and they are not killed just for that reason. When they stop using ESC, and FTSC, I will have no problem supporting ALS research.

  5. Hi there Bridgett, actually, I don't know you at all, so I'm not sure what you meant by your last statement.

    And I agree with what Jill Quaade said. You're comment is more than merely's heartless. I never said or hint to the fact that stopping embryonic stem cell research will stop abortions. I made the point that both are unconscionable. And that's why this IS a pro-life issue.

  6. Bridgett Jones WakefieldAugust 27, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    So, if any child below the age of consent dies, we should not use their organs... correct?

  7. You know well what I am talking about, I am not going to continue in your cycle of twisting words the way you want to hear them.

  8. Bridgett Jones WakefieldAugust 27, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    I am not attempting to twist words. I am pro-life. I always have been and actively so. I have talked countless numbers out of having an abortion and will continue to do so because of the child's right to LIVE. We allow parents of children to decide whether to donate their child's organs if they pass away. I do not see the difference here. I am not playing semantics, so quoting 2 Timothy does not apply here. I am asking real life questions to allow yourself to apply your views equally in all situations.

  9. Do you seriously not see the difference?!? Donating organs of a born child that has passed away, is not the same as using stem cells of an unborn baby who's life was taken by an abortion.

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    Career Lessons from Ice Bucket Challenge

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