Adam (Mark Ruffalo) has just reached the 5-year mark in his sex addiction sobriety with help from his sponsor Mike (Tim Robbins). New-comer Neil (Josh Gad) seeks out Adam's help hoping that he'll be his mentor, but Neil doesn't have the same maturity and continues to harass women at work, on the street, and on the subway. Adam has also just met Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), who might be perfect for him, but Adam hasn't been in a relationship since he recognized his addiction to sex, and Phoebe doesn't date addicts. As Adam navigates the romantic relationship waters, Mike struggles connecting to his former drug-addicted son who has just returned home, and Neil develops a relationship with another woman in his sex addicts group, but a platonic friendship might be exactly what he needs. Written by
Romantic comedies have been running out of ideas for decades - thinking up fresh, interesting and yet plausible ways to break up a couple who are clearly meant for each other is no laughing matter. Bravely, Thanks For Sharing selects sex addiction as its theme, exploring the ways in which the disease bleeds into and affects the relationships of its victims. At its best, Stuart Blumberg's first film as a director smartly mines laughs amidst the drama of his protagonists' lives, just as his script for The Kids Are All Right did. More often than not, however, Thanks For Sharing suffers from an uneven tone, lurching uncomfortably from comedy to drama and back again.
Adam (Mark Ruffalo), a sex addict who's managed to stay sober for five years, is nervous about re-entering the dating field despite the encouragement of his mentor Mike (Tim Robbins). He quickly changes his mind when he meets Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), although he soon realises that coming clean to her about his disease will be the one of the hardest things he's ever done. At the same time, Neil (Josh Gad) struggles with the sobriety programme, desperate to hang on to his medical license but unable to overcome the worst of his symptoms.
Blumberg's efforts are laudable, even if not entirely successful. He tries to give the topic the dramatic weight it deserves, never making light of the problems suffered by Adam, Mike and Neil. In fact, he renders the affliction more easily understandable: demonstrating that it is a sickness while drawing out the implications of being addicted to something that's such a fundamental cornerstone of human relationships. But, as a result, the film dances somewhat out of Blumberg's control. He plays one relapse for laughs, and another for horror, and doesn't quite manage to knit the two extremes together.
It doesn't help that Blumberg invests most of his time in the film's blander relationships. The push and pull between Adam and Phoebe is well-acted (and a real kick for Marvel movie enthusiasts who might like to imagine Bruce Banner and Pepper Potts cheating on Tony Stark with each other), but it falters when it hits that dramatic speed-bump. Mike's troubled relationships with his long-suffering wife Katie (Joely Richardson) and drug addict son Danny (Patrick Fugit) feel forced and obvious. It's the almost joyful, fizzy friendship between Neil and fellow addict Dede (a wonderfully natural Alecia Moore a.k.a., Pink) that walks off with the film's biggest laughs and sweetest moments.
At the heart of Thanks For Sharing lies a smart, complicated message about making relationships work: how acceptance, openness and truth can go a long way towards solving seemingly insurmountable problems. Unfortunately, that message gets buried a little beneath the film's too many layers of comedy, romance and drama.
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