A deft, three-dimensional performance from Dern, playing an almost entirely unlikable character, aids incalculably in exposing what happens when political factions lose touch with the realities of the issues for which they claim to provide answers.
Both Fellini and Woody Allen have remarked that casting is 90 percent of directing--and Citizen Ruth bears witness to that notion. While this is primarily Dern's show, the casting is perfect all around.
Has its share of bitingly funny moments, and some of the comedy is quite inventive.
Mike ClarkUSA Today
An equitably rude comedy about abortion, brazen by definition but also fairly droll. It's probably too schematic to reward more than a single viewing, but as a provocative one-time surprise it may become a specialized sleeper. [13 December 1996, p.4D]
David SterrittChristian Science Monitor
Alexander Payne's equal-opportunity satire persuasively argues that no ideological group has a lock on "values" or "correctness," and reminds us that fanatics can be found on every side of an issue.
Payne cannot shape or propel his own good material. He lets things dawdle when briskness would be a boon, and defeats the gung-ho efforts of Dern and other worthy actors. [9 December 1996, p.82]
The film degenerates into an overly simplistic satire -- with moon-worshiping, Guatemala-visiting, lesbian aborters on one side, and fetally obsessive, meat-eating, gun-toting Jesus worshipers on the other.