Mike D'Angelo
June 20, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Citizen Ruth

Current Status
In Season
Laura Dern, Mary Kay Place, Tippi Hedren, Swoosie Kurtz, Kelly Preston, Burt Reynolds
Alexander Payne

We gave it an A

The prospect of a pitch-black comedy about an issue as ferociously divisive as abortion didn’t exactly pack ’em in at the multiplex, but those who stayed away from Citizen Ruth missed last year’s most audacious and hilarious movie. Guaranteed to offend virtually everybody, first-time director Alexander Payne’s tale of a venal, selfish, illegal inhalant-sniffing pregnant woman (Laura Dern, above, never better) caught in a tug-of-war between pro-life and pro-choice advocates is somehow simultaneously sweet-natured and vicious, two parts Preston Sturges’ bemused affection to one part Billy Wilder’s cynical misanthropy. The mixture is corrosively funny and could inspire eated post-film debates. A

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