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Citizen Ruth


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Product Details

  • Actors: Swoosie Kurtz, Kurtwood Smith, Mary Kay Place, Kelly Preston, M.C Gainey
  • Directors: Alexander Payne
  • Writers: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
  • Producers: Cary Woods Cathy Konrad
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Unknown)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: January 6, 2012
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007K028
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,443 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Citizen Ruth" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Meet Ruth Stoops. She's homeless, dumb as a cinder block and loves to get high huffing spray paint. Life would be dandy if it weren't for one tiny problem - she's gotten herself knocked up for the umpteenth time, and it seems like everybody's got an opinion about what she should do -from an angry judge to God-fearing Baby-Savers to radical lesbian feminists. And Ruth just wants to party! Laura Dern stars in an award-winning bravura performance backed by a stellar ensemble cast including Burt Reynolds, Mary Kay Place, Swoosie Kurtz, Kelly Preston, Kurtwood Smith and Tippi Hedren. Written and directed by the team who brought you Election and About Schmidt, Citizen Ruth is a hilarious, provocative look at what happens when a sperm meets an egg and sparks fly.

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Customer Reviews

One of the things I like about this movie is that Payne presents us with _sincere_ activists, who make pretty good points for both sides.
Interplanetary Funksmanship
Laura Dern is perfect as the angry, drug-addicted and pregnant Ruth, who becomes a pawn in the political war between professional pro-life and pro-choice activists.
Lleu Christopher
This is his first feature film, and it may not be fair to rate it based on his later work, but this one lacks some of the more subtle moves of those films.
William C. Stephens

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Lleu Christopher on December 5, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
I believe Citizen Ruth, which satirizes both sides of the abortion debate, is one of the best films of the 90s. Laura Dern is perfect as the angry, drug-addicted and pregnant Ruth, who becomes a pawn in the political war between professional pro-life and pro-choice activists. Declared an unfit mother by a court, Ruth is encouraged to have an abortion. She is "rescued" by a swarmy, too-nice couple who, of course, turn out to be fanatical pro-lifers. They embark upon a full-fledged campaign to change Ruth's mind, which includes making her watch a film of a fetus being destroyed. As her case gains publicity, she is soon appropriated by the other side. The pro-choicers turn out to be equally fanatical and ideology-driven. Soon Ruth is being offered money by both sides, to either have or abort her baby. What makes the film work so well is the way Ruth's deadpan street attitude sharply contrasts with everyone around her. She is utterly oblivious to the issues and movements which with they are obsessed. This perfectly illustrates the sharp separation that necessarily exists between causes and real life. Ruth is an actual, if not wholly sympathetic person; to the activists around her, she is only a symbol to be used in their campaigns. Citizen Ruth brings this point home in a way that is entertaining and very funny. It is one of those movies with an extremely unlikely plot that is so smoothly executed that it seems believable as you watch it. While the events portrayed may not be realistic, the emotions that drive them are.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Interplanetary Funksmanship on July 14, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
One of the most oft-repeated cliches of the pro choice movement is the line "men shouldn't have any say over abortion or a woman's body." Well, director Payne and his co-scenarist Jim Taylor have a LOT to say about abortion, women's bodies and the issues of individuals versus groupthink.
I loved this movie! Laura Dern is genuinely funny and quirky as the slow-witted Ruth Stoops, who finds herself at storm center as a judge convicts her of criminal negligence to her unborn fetus. However, out of court, he advises her to "take care of this problem," sotto voce telling her to get an abortion. Ruth doesn't really care; she just wants to find some Krylon or airplane glue to inhale.
Finding herself in jail, some Christian pro-lifers take her under their wing. Suddenly, she is no longer a rational actor whose free will determines the birth of her baby, but a pawn in a PR war between pro-life and pro-choice zealots. It is as if Ruth doesn't even exist as an individual, and is only important to these fanatics as a poster child for their respective causes.
What I most love about the characterisations of the activists is how Payne shows how removed they are from reality. The pro-lifers (Mary Kay Place and that guy from That 70s Show) are Christian evangelicals who won't even have a TV in their house, hold independent church services at their house and sing horrifyingly bad hymns like "Yes Jesus Loves Me, The Bible Tells Me So" (this hokum is probably the main reason people become atheists; whatever happened to church hymns by Bach or Cesar Franck?) Their clothes are right out of the Monkey Wards 1977 catalogue and they speak in that anti-intellectual sing-song style.
The pro-choicers are just as big a scream.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Herzog on November 27, 2005
Format: DVD
This movie is a must present for radical pro-life and pro-choice. I always think of this movie when politicians or people debate this issue. It really shows how it is about the "issue" and not really about mother or a child. It is the greatest portrayal of this highly charged political issue.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 7, 2005
Format: DVD
Abortion is always a difficult topic to tackle, because its two extreme sides - pro-life and pro-choice - have a "you're either with us or against us and there's no in-between" mentality. Alexander Payne's Citizen Ruth is a political satire that does not take a stand on either side of the fence, instead choosing to remain neutral and expose the absurdities of each side.

Ruth Stoops (Laura Dern) is the very definition of troubled: an unemployed, drug-addled drifter with four children who were all taken away from her because she can't seem to get her life together. She's picked up for huffing and finds out that she's pregnant again, and the judge wants to impose a harsher sentence on her for endangering the fetus. This becomes a big news story, and soon Ruth finds herself being tugged at from both sides of the abortion issue.

Ruth is taken in first by the pro-life Norm and Gail Stoney, played by Mary Kay Place and Kurtwood Smith, whose intention it is to convince Ruth to have the baby. They want to help her get her life together, and offer her the guest room in their modest house as refuge from the sea of reporters that want the scoop on Ruth's story. All Ruth wants is to be left alone and to keep her life private. Oh, but she also wants to get high all the time to escape her life.

After Ruth has some difficulty with the Stoneys, another member of the pro-life commmitte, Diane Siegler (Swoosie Kurtz), takes Ruth in, and reveals that she is actually an undercover agent for the pro-choice force. The tug of war then kicks off in earnest, with the pro-lifers offering a large cash reward to Ruth for having the baby, and the pro-choicers attempting to match it.
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