MOVIE REVIEW: Thanks For Sharing

thanks for sharing

Film: Thanks For Sharing
Directed by: Stuart Blumberg
Screenplay by: Stuart Blumberg, Matt Winston
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow

Remember a few years ago when sex addiction was all the rage?

The disease burst into the public’s consciousness with David Duchovny and Tiger Woods as its poster boys and it was met with plenty of ignorant skeptics who questioned whether it was really a disease at all. As Gwyneth Paltrow’s character asks in Thanks For Sharing: “Isn’t that something guys just say when they get caught cheating?”

Well, even if Paltrow’s character hasn’t, our culture seems to have developed at least some understanding for the disease over the past few years. And just as co-writer Stuart Blumberg (also making his directorial debut) did with The Kids Are All Right, he treats Thanks For Sharing‘s subject with a surprising amount of respect.

The film follows the ups and downs of three men at different stages of recovery. Mark Ruffalo’s character is your basic Manhattan playboy, just one who hasn’t had sex in five years, doesn’t own a laptop and requests to have the TV removed from his room when he’s away on business trips. Tim Robbins is his sponsor, a long-sober alcoholic and sex addict whose high school sweetheart (Joely Richardson) has stuck with him every step of the way.

Finally, Ruffalo’s sponsee is played by Josh Gad, who usually gets the pointless comic relief role in this sort of movie (see: Love and Other Drugs), but he brings an unexpected amount of depth to his character, a doctor who was recently fired for looking up a his boss’s skirt. He lies about his “day count” despite never making it through a single day without masturbating and his sponsor forbids him from riding the subway since it’s essentially a fondler’s paradise.

Pop star Pink puts a blue streak in her hair and transforms into Alecia Moore, a comfortable and confident actor whose Dede offers a welcomed female perspective to the male-dominated proceedings. She and Gad’s character form an unlikely bond that manages to avoid all the expected cliches.

After hitting the 5-year landmark, Ruffalo decides it’s finally time to start dating again when he hits it off with a breast cancer survivor played by Paltrow at a party where the guests are exclusively eating crickets. And who knew there were so many different ways to prepare crickets? Skewers. Poppers. You name it, they had it. But where did this party guest buy this cooler full of crickets? I must know.

Oh yeah, back to the film. Robbins’ world is similarly turned upside down when his son (Patrick Fugit), a recovering addict in his own right, returns home for the first time in years. He hasn’t used in 8 months, but prefers the “white-knuckle” method and seems to resent his father’s approach to recovery. Or maybe he’s just jealous of the bond his father has gained through the program.

Even though it’s deemed safe by the program to engage in sexual behavior with someone you’re in a committed relationship with, Ruffalo fights off most of Paltrow’s advances. How is it that a gorgeous woman is moving too fast for a sex addict, you ask? Well, it’s a complex disease and a complex turn from Ruffalo, who never seems to get the respect (or material) he deserves.

Thanks For Sharing wants to have it both ways as a charming feel-good dramedy and as a more serious film that delves into the considerable demons of what Robbins’ character describes as “trying to quit crack while the pipe is attached to your body.” It eventually undergoes some stark tonal shifts with Ruffalo’s storyline taking some particularly dark turns. A few of the comedic bits fall flat — even Ruffalo can’t rescue a downright cringe-worthy line that includes the phrase “booby prize.” But for the most part, it works, thanks to Blumberg’s impressive sense of pacing and narrative flow.

Even though Thanks For Sharing‘s marketing positions it as a romantic comedy, it’s possibly the worst date movie ever. After all, its characters spend the majority of the film fighting their urges and temptations. The film is largely devoid of romance, instead choosing to focus on the relationships between these three very different men brought together by the one thing they have in common.

But hey, speaking of urges, I’m craving a cricket po’ boy. Anyone know where I can find one of those in Chicago?

Grade: B

Review written by: Kevin Blumeyer — Follow him on Twitter

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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