One person in Thanks For Sharing (opening today) describes sex addiction as: "Like trying to quit crack, only the pipe is connected to you at all times." To some, it may be surprising that sex addiction is even a real thing...says another character in the film, "Isn't that just something guys say when they get caught cheating?"
Well, apparently, sex addiction is real and just like other 12-step abuse programs that are set up for alcohol or drug addiction, there are groups of sex addicts that gather to share stories, lean on one another and try to overcome their problems on a daily basis. Thanks For Sharing is a film about sex addiction, those that find themselves battling for "sobriety" and the tight-knit community that like-minded souls can create when faced with a common obstacle.
Mark Ruffalo plays Adam, a man battling the "disease" who has now been clean for five years. His two buddies represent opposing ends of the self-help spectrum. First, there's Mike (Tim Robbins), a man who has been in the program so long that he almost exclusively speaks in short catchphrases and analogies (like the quitting crack line above). Then there is Neil (Josh Gad), who has been mandated to attend the meetings and who finds himself struggling with his new-found challenge. These three and their stories form the fabric of the film.
One by one, a person enters each one of their lives, creating certain issues. For Adam, he meets the sexually-comfortable, Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), but doesn't reveal that he's a sex addict. Mike and his wife have trouble at home when Mike's son re-appears, a recovering addict in his own right. For Neil, there is a female in the group, Dede (Alecia Moore, better known as the singer, Pink), who has always used sex to relate to men and who is trying to better herself.
Thanks For Sharing battles some demons of its own with a tone that doesn't know what it wants to be. At times, it's a comedy and at others a serious drama. It pulls back the curtain on this little-talked about area of addiction but it mostly seeks acceptance for its topic and its characters. It badly wants to tell us that sex addiction is a real issue that should be thought of as a serious one on the same scale as alcohol or drugs. Okay, point taken. But in doing so, it falls victim to the cliches of every other addiction film...we know that it's an every day battle and that you are still a good person if you happen to fall off the wagon from time to time. Not necessarily ground-breaking news.
Still, Thanks For Sharing has a pretty strong cast doing good work with what they are given. It falls short of hard-hitting and is too rigid to land as a straight-up comedy, leaving it stuck in mediocrity somewhere in-between.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Run Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, Joely Richardson, Pink, Josh Gad, Carol Kane, Michaela Watkins
Co-written by Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right, The Girl Next Door) & Matt Winston (writing debut)
Directed by Stuart Blumberg (feature-film directorial debut)
Opens locally on Friday, Sept 20, 2013 (check for show times).
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How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"
- 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
- 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
- 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
- 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
- 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time