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Citizen Ruth (1996)

An irresponsible, drug-addicted, recently impregnated woman finds herself in the middle of an abortion debate when both parties attempt to sway her to their respective sides.

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3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Diane Siegler
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Norm Stoney
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Rachel
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Harlan
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Dr. Charlie Rollins
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Judge Richter
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Nurse Pat
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Jessica Weiss
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Lance Rome ...
Ricky, Ruth's Lover
Jim Kalal ...
Tony Stoops
Shea Degan ...
Arresting Officer
Vince Morelli ...
Dr. George
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Storyline

Ruth Stoops is a poor indigent drug-user (a huffer - inhaling glue and paint for a high) whose down and out existence is complicated once more by becoming pregnant (she has had and lost four children already). When a judge orders that she gets an abortion or face a felony charge, she is befriended by Gail Stoney, a pro-lifer whose husband is president of the local "Babysavers" group. Suddenly Ruth is thrust into the middle of the pro-choice/pro-life struggle, with each side wanting her to take their side as a "message" to others - and the situation escalates... Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Pro-Laugh comedy. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for substance abuse, strong language and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Meet Ruth Stoops  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$26,709 (USA) (15 December 1996)

Gross:

$153,155 (USA) (12 January 1997)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(FotoKem)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Inspired by the true story of Martina Greywind and follows the details of her story fairly closely. Ms. Greywind was a 28 year-old homeless North Dakota woman addicted to drugs who was unaware she was pregnant, after having had six children taken by the state, until being arrested for publicly inhaling spray-paint fumes (this was changed to patio sealant, a fictional product, for the film) and was charged with endangering her unborn child. She was bailed out by the Lambs of Christ, who offered her $10,000 if she gave birth to the child, even if it were given up for adoption. Ultimately, she had the abortion, with the fee donated by a pro-choice organization and was driven over 100 miles to the nearest clinic. See more »

Goofs

When Ruth is going out to party with her host family's daughter, she takes a hit from a bong, but does so incorrectly, not clearing the smoke from the chamber. See more »

Quotes

Rachel: Oh shit! A vigil.
See more »

Crazy Credits

About halfway through the credits, we hear the beginning of Tape 2, Side 1. See more »

Connections

Referenced in TruInside: Election (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Watch this one more than once!
20 May 2004 | by (Spokane, WA) – See all my reviews

Occasionally you will see a movie that may take you some time to decide whether you enjoyed it. By the second time you see it, you're better able to fully appreciate the movie without becoming wrapped up in confusing or disturbing plot elements. "Citizen Ruth" is one of the best examples of this phenomenon I have ever seen. If you've seen it before, give it another chance. If you have not, give yourself some time to reflect after watching it. You will not be disappointed.

"Citizen Ruth" is the story of a woman, Ruth Stoops (Laura Dern could not have been a better choice for this role), who has spent her difficult life making a lot of bad choices. She is a quick-tempered, irresponsible but naive junkie, who you can't help but root for. When she finds herself pregnant yet again, with no intention of giving up the model airplane glue and spray paint she regularly huffs, the judge makes it clear that with all of her previous run-ins with the legal system, Ruth had better "take care of the problem" or face serious charges.

When the local pro-life group, the Babysavers (Kurtwood Smith was another excellent choice to play the leader of this group) catches wind of the judge's comments, they set out to save Ruth and her unborn child. This, of course, turns out in a hilariously disastrous way, when pro-choice gets involved to even up the playing field. Ruth's naivete makes her easy for both sides to manipulate, and neither pro-life nor pro-choice winds up looking very good.

The ending to this movie is not, in my opinion, as predictable as it seems, and it really gives you something to think about - what is "life" and how much (both in material and ethereal terms) is it worth, particularly when it's placed in the hands of somebody who is in such poor control of her or his own? Is it ethical to take advantage of somebody's lack of knowledge for your own gain, or is it even okay to try to change somebody's mind? Is Ruth Stoops a bad person, or just a misunderstood and desperate woman? And what about her final choice?

This movie is worth a second look, and at a $3 rental fee, what do you have to lose?


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