So you will probably notice a lot of similarities about the way I talk about Payne and Russel. That extends to how I feel about their first movie. I watched Citizen Ruth late in the game, just a year ago at this point. As I have mentioned it hasn't been too long since I have paid attention to directors in general. When I did and realized I loved four of Payne's films the next step was to watch those that I hadn't yet. Enter Citizen Ruth. To me it is pretty much indistinguishable from his other films. In theory I think the concept is ripe for comedy. The pro choice and pro life movements both battling over this unborn child, who's mother can't take care of herself, much less a child. The problem is it isn't funny. At no point did I life at any of these caricatures that Payne creates. This movie may have worked better back when these two factions were much more, for lack of a better word, vocal. That is to say when there was a lot more protesting and things were more heightened physically.
Anyway, this movie didn't work for me on any level. I found Dern insufferable, which I guess is part of the point, but she would have worked better if she had been at least a little sympathetic. I thought it would be fun to see Kurtwood Smith playing against type, but that novelty didn't last long. I didn't find the usual greatness in Payne's dialogue. This feels like a first feature to me. i am glad it wasn't my first experience with Payne, that's for sure.