7.0/10
6,218
55 user 45 critic

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.

Director:

Watch Now

From $1.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

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
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
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
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
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 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
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
Harlan
...
Dr. Charlie Rollins
...
Judge Richter
...
Nurse Pat
...
...
Lance Rome ...
Ricky, Ruth's Lover
Jim Kalal ...
Tony Stoops
Shea Degan ...
Arresting Officer
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:

Meet Ruth Stoops...One Bad Mother. 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:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

|

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)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(FotoKem)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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 is the on phone after seeing a news report about her]
Ruth: You wanna send a message? I ain't no fucking telegram, bitch!
[pause]
Ruth: Nothing's wrong! I'm fine now. You think I'm a fool. You're the fool, cause guess what? This is a war and Diane's a spy. How bout that?
[pause]
Ruth: Now you're catching on!
[pause]
Ruth: Oh yeah! Well you're a cunt!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Harlan, a great, underrated character
8 February 2001 | by (Alexandria, VA) – See all my reviews

I thought "Citizen Ruth" was fine, biting satire and a movie that had to be made at some point in America's history. Like all good movies, it is not really about the subject at hand - in this case, the abortion issue

  • but about something deeper and more far reaching. "Citizen Ruth" is
about people who get so devoted to a cause they think important to humanity that they forget to consider actual human beings.

Of course, the unavoidable problem with a movie such as this is that almost all of the characters are unsympathetic. Regardless of what opinion one has on the abortion issue, both factions behave badly and they do it supposedly on behalf of the most irresponsible, irredeemable, unlikable (but still watchable) glue sniffer around, Ruth. The effect can be a little wearing, especially at the end.

The movie alleviates this problem by including one wonderful character, Harlan, the cynical Gulf War vet. He unceremoniously plunks his prosthetic leg on the kitchen table. He eats shirtless standing over a sink. He sees Ruth as a person, albeit a diminished one, and is willing to give her what she really wants (money) in order to, as he says, level the playing field, even though he knows she will squander it in a matter of days and tells her so. While he is on the prochoice side, he sees the humor in the situation, as evidenced by his wonderful grin and does not seem to lose track of his own humanity. His dialogue is priceless. Where everybody else speaks in rhetoric he cuts to the chase. My favorite retort of his occurs when the sanctimonious Dale, a pro-lifer, spouts out some Biblical condemnation at him and he responds by giving the exact location in the Bible of the quote. Naturally the actor playing the part, M. C. Gainey, deserves much of the credit for creating this appealing character.

The movie has many other merits but Harlan is my own personal favorite


12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page