7.0/10
6,584
55 user 45 critic

Citizen Ruth (1996)

Trailer
2:22 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $1.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
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.

Director:

Alexander Payne
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A lonely photographer gradually develops a rather unhealthy obsession with a young woman he once met by sheer chance.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Holgie Forrester, Charley Hayward, Lauren Tuerk
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
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
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
Sideways (2004)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    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
Drama

Willie Gary, a successful personal-injury lawyer from Mississippi, takes on the case of Jeremiah O'Keefe, the owner of a local chain of funeral homes who claimed he had been swindled by a major funeral parlor conglomerate.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Emily Baker
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Laura Dern ... Ruth Stoops
Swoosie Kurtz ... Diane Siegler
Kurtwood Smith ... Norm Stoney
Mary Kay Place ... Gail Stoney
Kelly Preston ... Rachel
M.C. Gainey ... Harlan
Kenneth Mars ... Dr. Charlie Rollins
David Graf ... Judge Richter
Kathleen Noone ... Nurse Pat
Tippi Hedren ... Jessica Weiss
Burt Reynolds ... Blaine Gibbons
Lance Rome Lance Rome ... Ricky, Ruth's Lover
Jim Kalal Jim Kalal ... Tony Stoops
Shea Degan Shea Degan ... Arresting Officer
Vince Morelli Vince Morelli ... Dr. George
Edit

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:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Miramax | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 December 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Meet Ruth Stoops See more »

Filming Locations:

Nebraska, USA See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$26,709, 15 December 1996, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$153,155, 12 January 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (FotoKem)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The "ASK ME" pin worn by Kurtwood Smith in the hardware store shows up again in Alexander Payne's following film, Election (1999). 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

Ruth: What's the mater? Are you fuckin' people deaf? I said I want an abortion.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Jersey Girl (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Watch this one more than once!
20 May 2004 | by erin_aaronSee 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?


18 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 55 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed