Synopsis: Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad and Alecia Moore shine in an unconventional romantic comedy that follows the topsy-turvy lives and loves of three obsessive characters, who embark in a life-changing journey filled with laughter and surprises.
Thanks for Sharing 7.75
eyelights: its insightful look at sex addiction. the cast.
eyesores: its structure.
“5 years… I remember when I couldn’t get 5 days.”
‘Thanks for Sharing’ is a 2012 dramedy written and directed by Stuart Blumberg. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, and Josh Gad, it follows the intersecting lives of a group of 12-step program sex addicts and their loved ones and friends (played by Patrick Fugit, Gwyneth Paltrow, Pink, and Joely Richardson), as they all try to cope with this disease.
Adam has been sober for five years, and leads a quiet, orderly, celibate life – but he was once a compulsive masturbator, juggled multiple girlfriends and paid for sex. Every day is a struggle for him: even as he walks down street, sex is everywhere, beautiful women are at every turn. One evening, though, at a dinner party, he meets Phoebe, a girl he instantly connects with. He decides to take a tentative step towards developing a relationship with her – with the approval of Mike, his sponsor.
Mike has been sober for fifteen years. He’s not just a sex addict, he’s also an alcoholic. His addictions have permanently scarred his family: He gave his spouse and high school sweetheart Hepatitis and, when he was drunk, he used to verbally abuse his son Danny – who’s grown into an addict himself, and whom they haven’t seen in years. Mike is judgemental, rigid, controlling, self-righteous and incapable of admitting his mistakes – past and present. This has a terrible impact on Danny to this day.
Danny has made himself clean without any outside help, but his father doesn’t trust his methods – or him, as he used to steal from them to fuel his addictions. He, on the other hand, is resentful because his father has never repaired the relationship, never apologized for the hurt. He’s also jealous of the relationship that his father has with his sponsees because he never got the chance to bond with him that way. Their relationship is very tense, and his return isn’t a smooth one, despite his mom’s efforts.
Neil is an emergency doctor who doesn’t seem serious about anything. He’s gotten into trouble for rubbing against women on the subway. He’s only now trying to get help, but he doesn’t do the work and lies about the progress he’s making. He comes close to getting ditched by Adam, his sponsor, and receives no respect from Mike. But he eventually crosses the line and gets fired from his job and, having hit rock bottom, desperate to get a hold on his life, he finally gets serious about his therapy.
Dede is a drug and sex addict who’s been forced to seek help and befriends Neil. One day, unable to contact her sponsor, she calls Neil up for help and he talks her out of going to her ex’s place for sex, a relapse that would inevitably leads her to self-destruction. Their friendship is the first time she’s ever related to a man in a platonic way since she was a child, a huge change for her. In turn, she teaches him to face his anxieties and helps him jumpstart his rehab by burning his massive stash of porn.
Phoebe is a health junkie who controls her intake of food and exercises compulsively. She has been damaged by a previous relationship with an alcoholic and has promised herself never to date an addict again. It’s only later in the relationship that he tells her his problem, and she tries to be understanding and cope with it. But Adam’s sex addiction causes problems for her because Phoebe is a very sexual person – and remains very cautious, feeling the need to put up boundaries to protect himself.
Katie has been with Mike through thick and thin for well over thirty years, despite the damage that his addictions has caused her and Danny. Her way of coping is to see herself as a separate entity from Mike’s addictions, of making sure that she’s well. She tries to help Phoebe through her personal conflicts and concerns about being in a relationship with Adam – and, above all else, tries to renew her long-lost connection with Danny, all the while struggling to facilitate between him and Mike.
The cast is fairly solid, but my enjoyment was hampered by Mark Ruffalo as Adam and Gwynneth Paltrow as Phoebe, both of whom I’m not especially fond of – having them paired up made the scenes with both characters in it difficult to appreciate. To make matters worse, their dialogues felt awkward, a bit dorky at times, adding to the discomfort.
Tim Robbins was superb as Mike, as always, and Josh Gad was very convincing as Neil, a loser who’s only ever taken his work seriously. The best surprises for me were Patrick Fugit, who was so amazing in ‘Almost Famous’, and equally so as a Danny, and Pink as Dede, who actually can hold her own in this terrific company; she’s got the chops.
But I can’t say that I was blown away by the movie. I felt that the stories weren’t especially unique or told in an original way – it was all very solid, but it was mostly your average, linear melodrama with light touches of quirky humour. The strength of the picture was in the way that the characters were woven together; that felt quite real to me.
If it does anything, ‘Thanks for Sharing’ puts in perspective just how fragile sobriety can be, how challenging the daily balancing act can be. Though it may be hard to imagine that sex might ever be a problem, for some people it’s beyond problematic; their very livelihood depends on regaining a more healthy relationship with their sexual selves.
For that reason alone, it’s a movie worth seeing.
Date of viewing: August 13+20, 2016