Leaving Limbo is a surprisingly fabulous movie! The story line looked mildly interesting in the trailer, but when I watched the actual film, I couldn’t walk away from it. This movie has all the elements of a good romantic comedy and a thought-provoking drama tucked neatly inside a unique plot premise.
Leaving Limbo follows the story of Monica Wyatt, the most immature 38-year-old you’ve ever met. But Monica has good reason to act like a teenager. She has just come out of a 19-year coma. Her miraculous awakening isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, as she struggles to fit into a world of Starbucks and cell phones... and to win back the love of her life.
Having grown up in the 1980’s, I laughed in so many places throughout this film. Writer/Director Sandy Boikian has a firm handle on everything 80’s, and I spent the first quarter of the film exclaiming, “I remember that!” But having lived well into the 2010’s, I could also appreciate what an enormous difference nineteen years makes in someone’s life, particularly those “defining” years when we choose careers, marriage, kids or all of the above. And that doesn’t even touch on the technological and social changes over the last twenty years. Can you imagine missing all of that? Where would you even start if you had to pick up from high school today? What if you woke up to find your whole family had changed their religious beliefs? I found myself asking these questions and more, just as the filmmakers intended.
There are three things in particular that I love about this movie. First, actress Mandy Brown does a phenomenal job playing the role of Monica. She perfectly performs the emotional whirlwinds that accompany a character like Monica: immaturity, loss, curiosity, love for life, confusion, forgiveness, shock, anger, hopefulness, determination, the list could go on and on. With every new plot event, encounter with another character, or difference between her old life and her new one, comes a new emotion, a new reaction, a new thing with which to “deal.” Brown handles these situations beautifully and creates a character that you can’t help but love by the end of the movie.
Second, I love the authenticity of each character. Their lives are messy, broken, complicated, and extremely realistic for Gen Xers today. But the characters aren’t depressing or difficult to like. In fact, they seem like people you might already have as friends. The film shies away from stock characters and white-washed Christians. In the few cases where a character seems archetypal, the script and the acting add subtle nuances that provide the additional depth you were hoping for. Because of their genuineness, the characters explore faith more honestly and with more gravity than many other films.
Third, I love the genre mixing. Part drama, part romantic comedy, Leaving Limbo has eloquent pacing as it navigates smoothly through both genres. Though it skips from humor to sadness to a love story to the gravity of Monica’s lost life, the switchbacks never feel jolting. The scenes move organically through her journey but still maintain a clear plot line. The story always feels like it’s going somewhere.
There were quite a few more things I liked about the film, but I’ll let you discover them yourself. It has some issues that purist critics will have to navigate through, like an unlikely plot twist at the end (which I actually enjoyed, though my “film sense” told me I shouldn’t) and some on-the-nose Bible story discussions by the uber-frank niece (technically, it would be fitting for her character to have these conversations). I’m sure if you are looking, you can find more. But I was honestly having too much fun watching it to critique it very much.
If you haven’t seen Leaving Limbo yet, you’ll definitely want to pick it up for some light-hearted but thought-provoking weekend fun. It has clean comedy and maybe a “generational” education for your older children (who might ask if you really talked like that when you were young). Dove.org approved Leaving Limbo for children over 12 and awarded it the maximum five stars. Find out more about Leaving Limbo and check out the trailer below.