Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thanks for Sharing (2013)


Alcoholism as a subject gets a movie or two every year as do various stages of drug addiction; however, the issue of sex addiction does not come down the line too often.  There is debate on whether or not this is an actual disease or just a lack will power, but after seeing Thanks for Sharing, you will thank your lucky stars you do not suffer the uncontrollable urges these folks do.  Just walking down a city street is a struggle for a true sex addict.

Some people just need a fix.  The junkie needs another vial or snort, the drunk needs another bottle, and the sex addict just needs another quick release.  There are no feelings involved, perhaps some shame and regret afterwards, but that will disappear soon enough when another jolt is required.  To break out of their self-destructive cycles, there are 12-step programs for sex addicts.  These groups look like any other AA or NA group we’ve seen on the screen before, but these people are sharing some pretty gruesome stories of self-destruction.

Thanks for Sharing follows three sex addicts each in their own stage of the disease.  The group’s elder statesman, Mike (Tim Robbins), is 15 years sober, in a monogamous relationship with his wife (Joely Richardson), and has a junkie son, Danny (Patrick Fugit), who drops in and out of their lives whenever he needs some money.  This time Danny swears he is sober just by going cold turkey, a statement Mike does not believe for a second; only a group gives a man the strength to control himself he thinks.

Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is five years sober and maintains a strict lifestyle of no TV and no Internet.  He is so fastidious and honest with himself that he has the TV removed from his hotel rooms on business trips.  Adam’s test comes in the form of a new girlfriend, Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow).  Going from zero intimate situations in five years to the start of a promising romantic relationship will not only be awkward for Adam in the form of explanations to Phoebe, but will stir up some barely-caged urges.

The group’s newbie and resident wise-ass is Neil (Josh Gad).  Neil has yet to hit bottom but he is not too far from it.  Joining the group by judicial decree and not too sure about this whole disease business, Neil still rubs up against women on the subway, tries to film up his boss’s skirt, and does not even begin to take any of the 12 steps seriously; he is still having a good time.  His urges are not helped by the group’s other new member, Dede (singer Pink billed as Alecia Moore).  Women sex addicts are welcome in the group too; however, they are noticeably outnumbered by the men.

Thanks for Sharing can get preachy at times; the persistent mantra that the 12-step program and group sharing is the only sure-fire cure is never too far away.  Our respective heroes encounter their various challenges and missteps impacting their sobriety, but the group is always there to pick them back up again.  Michael Fassbender’s character from Shame (2011) desperately needed a support group; however, that film was much more serious and strayed into far darker territory.  Thanks for Sharing ventures into deeper waters towards the film’s climax, but remains upbeat and perky most of the time as a romantic comedy. 

Written and directed by Stuart Blumberg who also co-wrote 2010’s The Kids Are All Right, Thanks for Sharing gives us a great ensemble cast, a juicy first role for Pink to sink her teeth into, and some melodrama mixed in with awkward jokes.  You won’t come away with any answers yet here a fine effort from a first time director and we get to see what the kid from Almost Famous (2000) looks like all grown up.

Directed by: Stuart Blumberg
Written by: Stuard Blumberg, Matt Winston
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad, Joely Richardson, Patrick Fugit, Alecia Moore, Carol Kane, Emily Meade, Isaiah Whitlock Jr., Michaela Watkins, Poorna Jagannathan

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