Citizen Ruth

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Director: Alexander Payne
Writers: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor
Director of Photography: James Glennon
Editor: Kevin Tent
Music: Rolfe Kent
Production Designer: Jane Ann Stewart
Producers: Cary Woods and Cathy Konrad
Miramax; R; 104 minutes
Release: 12/96
Cast: Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Kurtwood Smith, Mary Kay Place, Alicia Witt, Kelly Preston, Tippi Hedren and Burt Reynolds

The stakes are high when a filmmaker tackles the abortion issue. But to treat it comically? That's just plain ballsy. The gamble paid off for Payne, who has fashioned a hilariously bold film. Dern deserves most of the credit for the film's success, giving one of the funniest performances seen on the big screen in a long time. Glue-sniffing Ruth Stoops (Dern) has four kids and is expecting her fifth. When she's busted for the 16th time on charges of hazardous vapor inhalation and criminal endangerment of her fetus, the judge nearly forces her to have an abortion. And the battle begins. A chipper, pro-life couple, Norm (Smith) and Gail (Place) Stoney take her in, though Norm's supposedly chaste interest proves fallible when he hits on Ruth. A spy (Kurtz) from the pro-choice camp infiltrates the pro-lifers and lures Ruth to the other side. Ruth sees dollar signs when both sides start bribing her.

Sources +