Citizen Ruth 1996

Citizen Ruth

Critics Consensus

Smart and sharply funny, Citizen Ruth is an entertaining look at a tough subject -- and an impressive calling card for debuting director/co-writer Alexander Payne.

81%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 26

74%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,336

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Movie Info

"Citizen Ruth" is the story of Ruth Stoops (Laura Dern), a woman who nobody even noticed -- until she got pregnant. Now, everyone wants a piece of her. The film is a comedy about one woman caught in the ultimate tug-of-war: a clash of wild, noisy, ridiculous people that rapidly dissolves into a media circus.

Cast & Crew

Laura Dern
Ruth Stoops
Kenneth Mars
Dr. Charlie
David Graf
Judge Richter
Tippi Hedren
Jessica Weiss
Andrew Stone
Co-Producer
Rolfe Kent
Original Music
James Glennon
Cinematographer
Kevin Tent
Film Editor
Susan K. Weiler
Film Editor
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News & Interviews for Citizen Ruth

Critic Reviews for Citizen Ruth

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for Citizen Ruth

  • Feb 20, 2014
    There aren't to many comedies about abortion out there today, but Alexander Payne attempts on in Citizen Ruth. The movie has guts, but the humor itself doesn't have the shock value I was expecting. The witty Payne could've pulled a few jaw droppers, but didn't even attempt them. The movie still has funny moments, as Ruth is pulled between a poster child of pro-life and pro-choice, when she as a drug addict gets pregnant with her forth child. The espionage reveal was funny, but there aren't to many other laugh out loud moments. The film has some explorative cinematography, when put in the first person perspective of Ruth. It's nothing ground breaking, but is intriguing. I felt that Ruth switched from mellow disinterest to extreme passion to often. Perhaps it was to show the ever changing moves of an inhaler addict, but it didn't always make sense. Luara Dern has gotten acclaim for this role, but I didn't see anything special. Little true emotion, and far to much swaying.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Sep 26, 2013
    One of the best political satires to deal with the extremely volatile subject of abortion, first time director Alexander Payne gave a powerhouse first film to his repertoire with this bitterly acid black comedy. What I think everyone appreciates is that both sides of this debate are shown in equally unpleasant terms, but not exactly unrealistic ones. The conservative branch are a set of violent and mean spirited protesters, but they also have women who regret their own abortions, and people who sincerely try to help the less fortunate. The liberal side is characterized as a set of lesbian leaning protestors and a freedom fighting mercenary who care about the right to choose. In the middle of this blood sport for the sake of creation is the character of Ruth (Dern), who doesn't care about the politics that make her center stage in a tumultuous feud. Instead of caring about the sanctity of human life, or about the freedom to choose, she cares about what is best for her. She makes the film enjoyable because she cares about very little except getting a lot of money and getting high behind a convenience store. It's really interesting how each side is fighting for her rights in their own way, trying to give her the freedom to choose and yet both leaning towards a different end-game, and yet she only wants to know what's best for herself. It's this selfish attitude that makes for the best moments, especially because there isn't any morale and certainly not any lessons learned from her experiences. Ruth is continually given the chance to do right, but every time she enables her formal bad behavior so she can get away clean. This film illustrates that human choice precedes morals, intellectual discussion, and politics, and that human choice is subjective based on who the person is. I think this film is good for anyone, on either side of the political spectrum, not for educational purposes, but because it works as a great character study as well as satire for its own sake.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 08, 2012
    "Citizen Ruth" is the most blatant satire I have ever seen, and it's one of the funniest as well. Alexander Payne is such a gifted writer and his execution is usually spot-on as well. "Citizen Ruth" is not his best film, but a darn good one regardless. It's eccentric and a little out and I doubt that very many will really like it, but it's funny and endearing and Laura Dern gives a wonderfully childish performance as the titular character. Also, Kurtwood Smith is great as well. I absolutely love watching him act. Why isn't he cast in roles like this more often?
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Jan 24, 2011
    This marked the feature debut of director and co-writer Alexander Payne, and man, did he get off to a good start. This is a scathing satire on the hot-button issue of abortion, and the ballsiest move that is made is that the film takes neither side, and instead skewers them both equally. Ruth is an unfit, drug addicted scumbag loser who, after finding out she's pregnant with her fifth child, finds herself unwittingly in the middle of the pro-life/pro-choice war as a hapless pawn who really wants nothing to do with either side, but is willing to play ball once she figures out that either side is willing to give her tons of cash if she joins in, The film is a tad rough, but makes for a striking debut. It's got nothing but unlikable characters, and takes the best position on an issue where neither side is truly right or truly wrong. The portrayals of the pro-choicers and the pro-lifers are dead on accurate, and that will probably make some people very uneasy. I think this is a bold film, and one that's also very sharp, funny, and entertaining, It does get a bit repetitive after a while, but overall, proves to be quite solid. Laura Dern is brilliant as Ruth, and this is easily her most courageous and strong performance. It takes talent to pull off such a tough character, but she absolutely nails it. Other actors such as Kurtwood Smith and Swoosie Kurtz turn in some good work as well, but seem far less well rounded, and veer more often than not towards caricature. It's still some nice work though. Payne obviously went on to far greater achievements, but this marked a great place for him to begin. Give it a go, it's quite something.
    Chris W Super Reviewer

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