[Screen It]

 

"CITIZEN RUTH"
(1996) (Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Extreme Mild Moderate None Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Mild Mild Moderate Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Satire: A pregnant woman becomes a pawn for both sides of an abortion case.
PLOT:
Ruth Stoops (LAURA DERN) is an inhalant abusing indigent who finds out that she’s pregnant with her fifth child. While the state has stripped the visitation privileges to her other kids, this time the judge charges her with felony criminal endangerment of her fetus. The judge also tells her, however, that if she gets an abortion they'll be more lenient with her. This angers members of a pro-life group, the "Baby Savers," including Gail Stoney (MARY KAY PLACE) whom she meets while in jail. Gail and her husband Norm (KURTWOOD SMITH) post bail and Ruth goes to live with them and their teenage daughter, Cheryl (ALICIA WITT) and younger son Matthew (SEBASTIAN ANZALDO III). Soon they're taking her to pro-life protests at a woman's clinic, but her continuing use of inhalants causes them to kick her out of their home. Another pro-lifer, Diane (SWOOSIE KURTZ), takes Ruth home, but she turns out to be an undercover pro-choice activist. Along with her lover, Rachel (KELLY PRESTON) and bodyguard Harlan (M.C. GAINEY), Diane swings Ruth back over to believing that she'll have the abortion. From then on the two sides, including "Baby Savers" president Blaine Gibbons (BURT REYNOLDS), battle for control of Ruth's conscience and her fetus.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Younger kids won't and teenagers will probably stay away when they hear it's about abortion.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For substance abuse, strong language and a sex scene.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • LAURA DERN plays a woman who abuses inhalants and finds herself pregnant for the fifth time.
  • MARY KAY PLACE plays a very religious pro-life activist.
  • SWOOSIE KURTZ plays a lesbian pro-choice activist who worked undercover as a pro-lifer.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    This is an interesting and at times funny satire of the opposing stands on the abortion issue. While never taking sides and equally poking fun at both the pro-choice and pro-life factions, the film makers have obviously chosen a topic ripe for the picking. Some of the characterizations are a little too overboard, but for the most part work very well. Dern's performance is impressive and while her character is not overly likeable, one can identify with her slow on the uptake views and her wanting to make her own choices. In addition, her reaction to all of the fanaticism surrounding her provides for most of the humor found in the film. Never dull and full of stinging humor, the inventive plot keeps the story always moving ahead at a good clip. While some will obviously be offended by a film that finds humor in a serious issue such as abortion, they should remember that it's making fun of the individuals involved and not of the issue itself. We found it amusing and give it a 6 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The biggest topics of concern here are abortion and inhaling fumes to get high. While the movie never takes a stand of which side of the abortion issue is right, it is talked about frequently and with great emotion. As far as inhaling fumes, the main character does that and inhales pot smoke from a bong. Profanity is extreme with 35 "f" words being uttered, but other than one mild sex scene, there isn't much more to object to. We do suggest, as always, that you read the scene listings for each category to determine if this film is appropriate for you or your family.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Ruth drinks some sort of liquor from a brown paper bag.
  • Ruth inhales fumes from driveway sealant, model paint and other substances on several occasions. Later in court, it’s reported that she’s been arrested sixteen times for "hazardous vapor inhalation."
  • Ruth goes out to party with Cheryl and later is seen inhaling smoke from a bong (marijuana) while Cheryl drinks beer (as do the guys with them). Ruth is then seen high with spray paint markings on her face after inhaling paint fumes.
  • Ruth drinks liquor again before inhaling more fumes.
  • While at Diane’s, Ruth drinks from a bottle she took from the liquor cabinet and tries sniffing bathroom cleaner, but it only makes her gag.
  • Ruth drinks again and later is drunk.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Ruth throws up on the hood of a police car.
  • Ruth wakes up to find blood in her bed. She puts her hand to her crotch and then raises it up and it’s got blood on it. She then races into the bathroom, leaving a bloody hand print on the door.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The man Ruth has just had sex with throws her out into the hallway after they're done.
  • Depending on your opinion and views on the issue of abortion, those representing the "other" side may have both to you.
  • Ruth goes through Gail’s purse and steals money from it.
  • Ruth only cares about herself and doesn't appreciate those who are trying to "help" her.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Shotgun: Used by Norm to chase away pro-choice activists who are looking for Ruth.
  • Pistol: Found by Ruth in one of Diane’s drawers and later used (to threaten people) during an escape.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Ruth inhales all sorts of substances to get high.
  • A man at an abortion clinic gives protestors "the finger" and Ruth gives it back to him. Later Ruth does the same to her mother who pleads for her to not to go to the clinic.
  • Phrases: "Bitch" (toward women), "Shut up," "Take a dump," "Slut," and "Eat me."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 35 "f" words (1 used with the prefix "mother"), 8 "s" words, 1 slang term each for male (the "c" word) and female (the "c" word) genitals, 3 hells, 2 "ass" words, 1 damn, and 3 uses of "Oh God," 2 uses each of "God," "Jesus," and "Jesus Christ," and 1 use each of "Oh my God" and "God damn" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Ruth is seen having sex with a man. While there’s no nudity, there is about a minute’s worth of sexual movement.
  • Norm sees part of Ruth’s bare buttocks and the thong underwear she’s wearing. Later, he lustfully eyes her body while she’s lying on a bed and he tells her that before he met Gail he "was quite the sinner."
  • While her parents lead a group singing songs in their living room, Cheryl sneaks a boy out of her room (implying that he slept with her).
  • Harlan gets a call from Diane that interrupts him from entering the "Adult Emporium" (some sort of sex store/show).
  • It's implied that Diane and Rachel are lovers.
  • There are some implications that there may be some sort of relationship between Gibbons and the boy who accompanies him. (The boy gives him an oil massage and is always with him, etc...)
  • Ruth finds a vibrator in one of Diane’s drawers.
  • When Ruth’s mother pleads for her not to get an abortion and comments that if she’d had one Ruth wouldn’t be there, Ruth replies, "At least I wouldn’t have had to suck your boyfriend’s c*ck," to which the mother replies that she’s changed her ways.
  • Ruth momentarily rubs wads of money across her breasts.
  • SMOKING
  • Ruth asks the Stoney’s for a cigarette but they tell her there’s no smoking in their home.
  • Harlan smokes on several occasions.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • A man won’t let Ruth see her kids when she comes looking for food and money.
  • After finding Ruth abusing inhalants again, the Stoney’s fight over whether she can continue to stay with them.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Abortion and the groups that oppose and support it.
  • VIOLENCE
  • The man Ruth has just had sex with throws her out into the hallway and then throws her TV out there as well.
  • Ruth throws the TV at that man’s car and then takes a metal pipe and smashes the windows and the headlights.
  • Ruth punches Matthew in the stomach after he tells his parents where she is and what she's doing (inhaling fumes again).
  • The guy who got Ruth pregnant pulls up next to her car and says he’s going to kill her (for smashing his car, but nothing happens).
  • An anti-abortion guy is pulled from his motorcycle. He races toward Diane’s house, but is intercepted and taken into the cellar by pro-choice bikers (but we never find out what happens to him).
  • Ruth drops a toilet tank lid onto a guard’s head and later points a pistol at him.



  • Reviewed January 8, 1997

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [American Made] [Battle of the Sexes] [Flatliners] [A Question of Faith] [Stronger]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2017 Screen It, Inc.