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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I write this review from the viewpoint of someone who is in recovery
from sex addiction. I have attended 12-Step, anonymous "S" meetings
(SLAA, SAA, SA, etc) for 23 years. In that time I have seen it all, so
I can say from experience that "Thanks for Sharing" tells it like it is
for those of us who struggle with sex addiction in recovery.
The movie itself follows multiple addicts whose recovery stories weave around each other. There are no plot twists, just a series of seemingly random, real life events and situations which plague addicts, and how addicts in recovery deal with them, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, but always making progress and learning how to live life.
The movie depicts a surprisingly complete spectrum of victories, failures, and facts of recovery: meetings, sponsorship, relapses into addiction, a "crash", a "crash and burn", job loses, near relapses, just-in-time phone calls, phone calls which went unanswered at critical times, suspicious girlfriends, wary wives, male addicts, female addicts, addict parents having to confront the affects of their addiction on their own children, addicts having to deal with their abusive parents, starting a healthy relationship with another addict in recovery or with a non-addict, the confusion caused by sex after long abstinence from sex, multiple addictions, and, above all, a message of hope and freedom. It's all there, and it's there in a surprisingly compact story.
The movie importantly points out a critical difference between sex addiction and substance abuse, and that is that substance abusers do not have their "drug of choice" manufactured within their own bodies, and that recovery from sex addiction is not about abstaining from sex forever but is about getting into a healthy relationship with sex.
"Thanks for Sharing" evoked strong feelings in me because I have "been there and done that". There were a couple of scenes where persons new to recovery were staggered by the new hope that was shown to them. I cried at those scenes because I *remember* that exact feeling from when I first started going to meetings. And I cringed when characters with long-term abstinence relapsed or nearly relapsed. I myself once relapsed back into active addiction when I was not able to get in touch with my sponsor, a reality eerily similar to one situation in this movie.
There were some mild sex scenes; R-rated stuff. It would be hard to make a movie about sex addiction without depicting at least some sex. These scenes were not gratuitous but were an integral part of the story, so I had no difficulty with them: I just shut my eyes to stay connected with the story rather than be distracted by the view.
My only negative remarks on the realism of this movie are that the meetings depicted had more of a "flavor" of an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting. One is MUCH more likely to be hugged at an NA meeting than at "S" meetings since recovering sex addicts tend to have a lot of issues around body contact. Then there is the manner in which people were depicted as sharing at meetings. I can't really put a finger on what the difference is but the dialog was much more like the way people share in NA meetings.
But the above are minor observations compared to how much the movie got right. Someone really did their homework to get so much right. And someone really put some effort into keeping "Thanks for Sharing" from becoming a "sexploitation" movie. Last but not least, the cast, writers, and director did a really good job of creating credible characters in an accurate story.
I wish I'd seen this movie sooner so that I could have added my review sooner.
This is now my favorite movie this year; I've completely forgotten Blue Jasmine, which was quite good I think. All of the performances were solid and believable, but Josh Gad's 'moment of failure' completely destroyed me. He is absolutely Beta Male gold in this film, and so inspiring. The duet scenes between Paltrow and Ruffalo were magical: I fully believed in the romantic spark (I can't remember when an infatuation seemed more real on the screen.) Tim Robbins and Patrick Fugit made me cry for the SECOND time toward the end--fantastic stuff. I immediately called my wife and my brother to tell them I loved them It's just freakin' great, this movie. However, this is NOT a romantic comedy. This is a serious drama with comedic elements. Blumburg and Winston turned in an incredible script that constantly avoided being trite or Hollywood where it easily could have for laughs. I must say that I am not surprised AT ALL at the lackluster ratings: Sex addiction is tooooo touchy for Americans.
'It's like trying to quit crack while the pipe is attached to your
body' Stuart Blumberg is a director who takes chances (The Girl Next
Door , The Kids Are All Right, Keeping the Faith). Using a screenplay
he wrote in conjunction with actor Matt Winston he approaches a subject
rarely touched upon (or even known about to the general public) sex
addiction and with the very capable assistance of a superb cast of
actors he brings it off. The film may disturb some, especially those
easily offended by the degree of self indulgence that story addresses,
but stay with this story to the end and be enlightened and touched by
the triumph of the human spirit over seemingly insurmountable odds.
The story centers around three sex addicts who must attend 12 step meetings, have a sponsor, and refrain from onanism or frottage or viewing pornography, sharing their shortcomings at eh meetings of fellow addicts. Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is an environmental consultant whose has been 'sober' for five years and has as his sponsor Mike (Tim Robbins), a small business owner married to the supportive Katie (Jowly Richardson) with whom he has a disowned alcoholic son Danny (Patrick Fugit), and who is sponsor to the obese foolhardy voyeuristic frottage obsessed ER Doc Neil (Josh Gad) whose mother Roberta (Carol Kane) has no clue about her son's debilitating condition. The three men Adam, Mike, and Neil - interact in needy ways and each faces a crisis he must address: Adam finally meets a girl to whom he can possibly relate, breast cancer survivor Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow); Mike must deal with his son Danny's return to the nest; Neil becomes tied to Dede (Pink) who is a sex addict of the first order and desperate to change. It all works in at times confusing ways, but always with a focus on the fragility of the addicted human being no matter the source of dependency.
The film has its light moments, but it is certainly more of a drama than a comedy except for the fact that 'all of life in the human comedy.' It is good to see a capable group take on a controversial subject and deliver it well.
Calling this a romantic comedy brings to mind the kind of thing that
would have Lisa Kudrow or Jennifer Aniston alongside Patrick Dempsey or
Yes, it has several "boy meets girl" moments, but the overall premise of the movie has romance as a side issue and is definitely not a comedy.
On the whole, I enjoyed it, although bits of it were tough to watch, with some strongly adult themes and it definitely wasn't what I was expecting. Anything that focuses on addiction isn't going to be a walk in the park, but selling it as a romantic comedy is misleading and does the film a disservice.
The main cast were great and their characters were interesting. More importantly, the film didn't suffer from the current trait of being too long for the storyline.
Somewhere between Indy cinema and mainstream Hollywood as well as
treading between comedy and drama, this is not an implication that it
suffers from an identity crisis but more of an affirmation that genre
boundaries do not have to be definite to produce an acceptable result.
The main corpus of the story is three sex addicts and their struggle to overcome it and it makes a point that a paramount factor in recovery is not so much the discipline to abstain from sexual stimulants but being surrounded by people who you can depend upon in the good as well as the bad days. In other words, community is paramount.
Overall, it is both a pleasant and poignant story that explores the isolation and darkness associated with this condition. A minus point would be the complete lack of background information on the illness although this is more than compensated in the battle these individual give not only to get better but to be accepted by others.
So a film that is both amusing with some is no little thing.
I loved this movie!!! bravo for the brave souls who tackled it! I own a masters as a movie connoisseur, and have some familiarity with the 12 step program, myself. Amazing and righteously done! This film is so close to the experiences of an addict and or co-addict, that I was utterly convinced that the many who worked on this film really have a grasp on how quickly ones path can take a dark turn, if he/she is honest enough with themselves to broach this topic and turn themselves over to 12 step community and a higher power to get the help they need.This film elegantly captures the reality of "the life". Grace and nurture are definitely found and used, here, in the face of such grim subject matter of this film, which for some means life and death. This is a beautiful compassionate film which shows not only how tough relationships are in a "normal persons" life, but goes out of its way to show how much harder they are for those who face the imbalance of sexual/relational addiction in ones life; but it offers it in a compassionate mannerism of hope and faith in the light of such difficulties for those who are afflicted. WE still don't know what causes the mind this imbalance, but Im grateful that there are those out in the entertainment biz, who handle such delicate matters with a grace, compassion, love for our human brothers and sisters who suffer with this (and similar maladies), and maybe even offer a light to a better path...perhaps even an easier softer approach for many circumstance covered in this piece of work. Its not just a piece of art, but educational informative work and sometimes shows we can approach life with all the joy, humor and brevity needed to get us through one day at a time. Even one those played their part were showing the honesty of how humans behave and how forgiveness and love goes sooo far in the human condition of recovery. Thanks to all who worked on this film; its beautifully honest while being real.
One of the most prevalent wrongdoings for marketing a film about a
heavy-subject is making the film appear to be a comedy or a
light-hearted drama based on the design of the film's theatrical
poster. This worried me right off the bat with Stuart Blumberg's Thanks
for Sharing, which is marketed with a poster that is largely white and
includes three separate pictures of happy, smiley couples with the
corny tagline "life is a journey you never have to take alone."
Learning the film was about sex addiction from its trailer, I couldn't
even begin to say how vague and general they kept this poster and
feared that, since addiction of any kind is hard for American audiences
to digest, this marketing campaign would effective limit or dilute the
true impact writer and director Stuart Blumberg was going for.
However, Thanks for Sharing lives up to its poster, as it is a pretty straight-laced, surface-level drama about sex addiction, one that looks at the film from a slight drama angle but prefers to allow comedy to rear its head in several places. Ostensibly, the film is likely to be dismissed by real-life sex addicts, who will find the film nothing but dismissive to a serious disease, and for that, serious points need be deducted from the film's overall performance. However, examining this picture from a lens analyzing competence and strength of writing, this is a passable little dramaedy that occasionally does offer some moments of stunning purity and vulnerability amongst its subjects, regardless of how pretty they look on a poster that is eighty-percent white.
The film focuses on three different people in New York City, all of whom sex addicts with a similar severity level and all of whom are in the same sort of twelve-step program for treatment and assistance. Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is your average, attractive male, who looks as if he has nothing to hide, until he meets Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), a hilarious woman who just so happens to be very sexually promiscuous and constantly looking for new ways to spice up her sex life in her relationships. Meanwhile, Neil (Josh Gad, who was also seen as Steve Wozniak in the Jobs biopic in 2013) is a pudgy clown of a guy, who is quick with a joke, but also deeply a victim to his disease. A doctor, one day he resorts to attempting to film up one of his coworker's skirts. He states it's for a documentary he's making called "What the Ground Sees." And then there's Mike (Tim Robbins), an older soul, with a family, who is trying to cope with sex addiction. He has a wife (Joely Richardson) and an adult son (Patrick Fugit), both of whom are aware of his complications and try to be there for him, despite recognizing that he still has his own personal wrongs he has yet to right. A bold scene comes late in the film, which is a fight between Mike and his son. The unwritten book of movie conventions states that a family must fight at a certain point in the film, but thanks to the timing and the speed of both Robbins and Fugit, this instance makes for one unsettling couple minutes, as real issues are thrown out in the open, and both characters - particularly Robbins' Mike - are seen at their most vulnerable.
Then there's Dede (Alecia Moore, better known by her pop stage-name as "Pink"), a unique, free-spirited sex addict who befriends clumsy Neil, as she admires his determination to not only keep himself off the track of careless sex but her as well. Moore acts just the way you'd expect her to act - wild, a little crazy with a tell-it-like-it-is personality combined with the ability to fly by the seat of her pants. With this being her first real acting role, I'd be the first to see Moore act in another picture, where her character is given enough space to move between comedy and drama. This is a tougher role to handle for a first time acting gig and Moore shows little struggle. What attracted her to the material is beyond me, but persistency in Hollywood could lead her to receive more performances that allow for deeply-rooted humanism to take affect, even more-so than what could be found in Thanks for Sharing.
When it comes down to the film's depiction of sex addiction, let's just say, this isn't necessarily the film a twelve-step program on sex is likely going to advertise. It's way too oversimplifying, rarely diving into the horrors of such a nasty and depressing disease that many people are quick to pass judgment on. Not to mention, when the film does try to dive into the horrors and the uncontrollable urges sex addicts are likely to have, Blumberg and co-writer Matt Winston are quick to rebound to more lighthearted comedic tone so as not to offend or alienate. The film plays drastically different instruments than Steve McQueen's Shame, one of the bleakest yet most profound films I have yet to see on the topic of addiction.
But, as established, Thanks for Sharing is nine miles away from Shame in many different respects; the only logical comparison is that both deal with an addiction that has gone under the radar as drug and alcohol addiction take prominence. Blumberg does an adequate job at incorporating comedy to a story that would seemingly only work under dramatic circumstances and for that the film deserves a big plus for courage. The fact that the actors also provide a grand amount of energy (Josh Gad is a real find of an actor, who I see going on to portray roles of even higher dramatic prominence) deserves another plus. While the entire ordeal may drag a bit and the conclusion seems a bit too clean, Thanks for Sharing is not without its benefits, which involve some of the most difficult things for dramaedies to get right.
I actually laughed pretty hard in this. What I was really impressed with was the contrasting emotions throughout the entire movie and it dealt with a somewhat overlooked issue in society these days. The movie didn't really slow down at all and there was always something happening. Acting is great but that's to be expected with Mark Ruffalo and Gwenyth Paltrow. Josh Gad is hilarious as always an definitely has all the laugh out loud moments. While I'm not a fan of P!nk in any capacity, she holds herself well in this role. I'm not sure why it got a fairly average 6.3 on IMDb and a 54 on Metacritic. Perhaps it is a bit confrontational in some aspects for some people but it isn't advertised as a feel good romantic comedy. Even if you don't see it in the theatres, make sure you get it on DVD, you won't regret it.
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.
Firstly, this is NOT a romantic comedy. It's a drama all the way. Secondly, I went in not expecting much but the storyline is very touching. It made me sympathize with the characters and really feel for them as sex addiction is a very real disease. The acting by all was magnificent, Pink was awesome and I am not usually a huge fan. Only two downfalls for me, one being the ending could have been better which leads me to my next point, there were a few moments in the movie that didn't quite make sense and should have been followed up later or explained but then the movie ended with no explanations. Other than that it was a very enjoyable movie.
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