51 user 44 critic

Citizen Ruth (1996)

2:22 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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.


3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Election (1999)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A high school teacher's personal life becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections, particularly with an obsessive overachiever determined to become student body president.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein
About Schmidt (2002)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A man upon retirement embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter's wedding only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney
Sideways (2004)
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen
Nebraska (2013)
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb
Inside Out III (Video 1992)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

Playboy does to softcore sex films what HBO's Tales from the Crypt did for horror. Contains the stories: "Dogs Playing Poker"; "The Branding"; "The Portal"; "The Perfect Woman"; "Within Ten... See full summary »

Directors: Nigel Dick, Alexander Payne, and 8 more credits »
Stars: Deke Anderson, Linden Ashby, Collin Bernsen
Inside Out (Video 1991)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.5/10 X  

Playboy does to softcore sex films what HBO's Tales from the Crypt did for horror. Contains the stories: "Brush Strokes"; "Shrink Rap"; "Doubletalk"; "The Leda"; "My Secret Moments"; "Life ... See full summary »

Directors: Jeffrey Reiner, Lizzie Borden, and 5 more credits »
Stars: Varda Appleton, Gavin Atkins, Terrence Atkins
Rambling Rose (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Rose, is taken in by the Hillyer family to serve as a 1930s housemaid so that she can avoid falling into a life of prostitution. Rose's appearence and personality is such that all men fall ... See full summary »

Director: Martha Coolidge
Stars: Laura Dern, Robert Duvall, Diane Ladd
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher
Starting Over (1979)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A divorced man falls in love, but somehow he can't get over his ex-wife. This affects his love life in comic ways. Based on Dan Wakefield's novel.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh, Candice Bergen
Slacker (1991)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A day in the life of Austin, Texas as the camera roams from place to place and provides a brief look at the overeducated, the social misfits, the outcasts and the oddballs.

Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Richard Linklater, Rudy Basquez, Jean Caffeine
Tumbleweeds (1999)
Drama | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A woman constantly runs from town to town with her 12 year old daughter to escape failed relationships. The film opens with one escape and the shift into a new start in San Diego. There Mom... See full summary »

Director: Gavin O'Connor
Stars: Janet McTeer, Kimberly J. Brown, Jay O. Sanders
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Charley Hayward, Lauren Tuerk, Lisa Zane


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


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 | Add Synopsis


A Pro-Laugh comedy. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

13 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Meet Ruth Stoops  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$26,709 (USA) (13 December 1996)


$153,155 (USA) (10 January 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Diane Ladd, Laura Dern's real life mother plays her mother in the film. See more »


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 »


Woman: We took the kids to Florida and stopped in Virginia to see the "Tomb of the Unborn Baby".
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in Jersey Girl (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Payne's underappreciated gem
3 October 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's truly gratifying to see that Alexander Payne has really made a name for himself in the art of film direction, having made nothing less than two fantastic social satires. "Election" garnered him considerable praise as will "About Schmidt," but in my mind, "Citizen Ruth" is the best. It's not as funny as Election in the sense that there aren't the moments that make your jaw drop in terms of the delightfully vicious nature of the satire, but the script is just as thoughtful as it is funny, and Payne did a remarkable job satirizing what, by most accounts, is an "un-satirizable" subject. Laura Dern really deserved some kind of award (you know the academy would never have the stones to recognize a film such as this...) as her performance is both touching and hysterical. Some said the film started off great and then didn't really go anywhere, but I disagree. The final shot says it all with respect to the direction of the story, and it really amazes me that this film could be made without really taking a side on anything. Ultimately, I was blindsided by the film's astute message, which was not even about abortion itself, but the selfish nature of the two sides arguing it. Payne will undoubtably move on to make compelling films in the future that take advantage of higher budgets, etc., but "Citizen Ruth" deserves a place amongst the best first features in any genre.

41 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Did anyone else think Laura Dern was stellar? moonstarsrevvvv
I loved this movie but.. yowigginz
Good movie? brian20nj
why the ending is amazing jpt524
DVD commentary powbiffbang
Ruth Stoops or Terry Schiavo bryanstampy
Discuss Citizen Ruth (1996) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: