Citizen Ruth

Bomb Rating: 

This was director Alexander Payne's first film, and taken in context with his subsequent films -- "Election" and "About Schmidt" -- I believe he would do well to change the spelling of his last name from "Payne" to "Pain."

I'm not sure there's even a point to be made in this film about the abortion debate, but as is typical of Payne's films, no character in the movie is even remotely likable, which makes watching "Citizen Ruth" a real joy. Not that I like people much to begin with, but even non-misanthropes will despise every person in "Citizen Ruth".

First on that list is the main character, Ruth Stoops (Laura Dern), a drug-addicted, white trash moron of a woman who finds herself pregnant and at the center of the abortion debate. Basically, she's already had four kids yet still sucks down enough drugs to stun a water buffalo. After being arrested for the umpteenth time, the judge suggests an abortion might be in order.

First Ruth is taken in by a group called "Babysavers", led by Norm (Kurtwood Smith) and Gail (Mary Kay Place), typical bible-thumping freaks who naturally care more about their cause than about Ruth. Then Ruth is taken in by Diane (Swoozie Kurtz), who also cares more about her cause than about Ruth. Ruth, on the other hand, appears to care about nothing.

So basically what you have in this film is a despicable central character and two groups of self-serving sign-wavers. This film can't be a whole lot better than saving your eight dollars and actually driving out to an abortion clinic and watching people scream at each other.

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