Citizen Ruth

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -3 1/2

This satirical look at the very explosive issue of abortion breaks new ground, and we shudder to think what will come next. Laura Dern plays Ruth, a homeless alcoholic drug addict who has been arrested 16 times, has four children and discovers she's pregnant again. If you're not laughing yet, maybe you will think the pro-lifers praying for her in jail while she stands there stoned from sniffing paint is funny. The judge has told Ruth she will spend time in jail unless she has an abortion. A pro-life activist takes her home, trying to absorb Ruth into their middle class, devout family. When that fails another activist (Swoosie Kurtz), who turns out to be not only a spy for the pro-choice group but also a lesbian, takes Ruth to her country home. Suddenly Ruth has become the media's darling and offers of $15,000 come from both sides. Meanwhile, Ruth stumbles onto some audio-tapes that, combined with nature taking its course, solve her dilemma. CITIZEN RUTH's tasteless humor falls flat, and hopefully box office receipts will as well.

This film has something to offend everyone. As the opening credits roll, Ruth and some guy are having sex in a filthy flophouse. After he throws her out, she buys household cleaner in an aerosol can to sniff. She's either sniffing or drinking whiskey every chance she gets. The pro-lifers are portrayed as hypocrites. The husband peeks in on Ruth as she is washing up wearing brief underwear, and makes some rather suggestive remarks when they are alone. His rebellious teen-age daughter is on her way to becoming another Ruth. The Baby Savers national president and founder (Burt Reynolds) is always accompanied by his young ward, a boy who has obviously been seduced into a sexual relationship with his guardian. The militant pro-choicers hold Ruth prisoner while pressuring the confused woman to have an abortion. Neither side cares about turning Ruth's life around and we know she'll be back on the streets. Conversations laced with 33 obscenities and three profanities further taint CITIZEN RUTH, but its making fun of the abortion tragedy will only offend, not mend.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Miramax Films, 18 E. 48th St., NY, NY 10017

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (7) times - Mild 1, Moderate 6

Obscene Language: Many (33) times - F-word 22, s-word 6, other 5

Profanity: Few (4) times - Regular 3 (J/C, J, GD), Exclamatory 1

Violence: Few times - Moderate (woman pushed downstairs, woman hits man over head)

Sex: Once, graphic without nudity

Nudity: None; Near nudity - woman in brief underwear once

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Man peeks at woman in bathroom, few references to sex

Drugs: Many times (drug and alcohol abuser sniffs cleaning fluids and paints, drinks whiskey)

Other: Christian family portrayed as hypocrites; abortion treated as political issue more than a moral one

Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.