Thanks for Sharing tries to look at the funny side of sex addiction. While I’m sure there are sometimes funny moments surrounding recovery groups and addictive behavior, when director Stuart Blumberg’s film turns dark, as expected, the whole just falls apart.
Adam (Mark Ruffalo), a recovering sex addict, has been sober for five years. Adam’s focus on group meetings and routine has also kept him isolated from the dating scene. When his sponsor, Mike (Tim Robbins), suggests that Adam get back out there, Adam meets Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow) at an entomologically exotic dinner party.
Things go well between Phoebe and Adam, until Phoebe finds out about Adam’s addiction.
There is nothing about the story or setup that is inherently flawed, but Blumberg chooses to give us a couple of secondary stories that pull emphasis away from the Adam and Phoebe’s struggles.
In the first, Mike and his son Danny (Patrick Fugit) must reconcile both as parent and child as well as two recovering addicts. The relationship between Danny and Mike is interesting, but since it is only used to complicate the main story involving Adam, it feels oversimplified.
The other parallel narrative follows Neil (Josh Gad), a sex addict who has been court ordered to seek recovery. Gad plays the jolly fat guy who does not take recovery or his addiction seriously. This would not be a problem, but Blumberg uses Neil’s story to infuse his film with some comedy. The result is a few cheap laughs that make it difficult for the viewer to take seriously Neil’s struggles.
To compare Thanks for Sharing’s focus on sex addiction to another recent film, we need only go to 2011 and Steve McQueen’s beautifully painful drama Shame. When I saw Shame one of the things that struck me about the film was how McQueen so effectively treated the graphic sexual content. It was not eroticized, or made appealing. Instead Michael Fassbender always looked like a junkie itching for a fix.
Thanks for Sharing is trying to take a lighter approach to sex addiction, and so its sex scenes are funny, awkward, or erotic in nature. I feel that this is a poor choice given the stigma or dismissal that many people have for this disease. It would be similar to making alcohol seem funny or appealing in Leaving Las Vegas.
There are some good performances, but as a whole Thanks for Sharing just does not take its subject seriously enough to be worth watching.