Sex addiction: comedy or drama? It really could go either way, depending if it’s someone like Adam Sandler behind the lens going for gross out humour, or Steve McQueen (who covers the same territory, albeit a little differently, in “Shame”). One genre you wouldn’t expect to tackle such a taboo subject is romantic comedy, yet this is what “Thanks For Sharing” attempts in the feature film directorial debut of “The Kids Are All Right” scribe Stuart Blumberg, who also co-wrote the film.
“Thanks for Sharing” tells the story of addiction in three stages. As the ultimate mentor, Mike (Tim Robbins), has been in recovery from alcoholism for 12 years and goes above and beyond to help his fellow addicts, even at the expense of spending time with his ex-junkie son who is newly returned home (Patrick Fugit). Mike is the sponsor to five years in recovery sex addict Adam (Mark Ruffalo) who is finally at the stage where he can take steps towards a relationship with new love interest Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow). Adam in turn takes on his own sponsor, newbie Neil, who, after filming up the skirt of his boss and getting fired from his job as an emergency room medic, must finally confront his downward spiral and admits himself to the program.
The most enjoyable of the three arcs is the journey of Neil who meets a female soul mate of the non-romantic kind in Dede (Pink). Both new to the recovery program and trying their hardest not to backslide, their adventures while trying to keep each other out of trouble are genuinely sweet. His story is the one that fulfils the ‘comedy’ aspect of this film, but while him rubbing up against hot girls on the subway and getting punched is played for laughs, you have to wonder what the women behind Everyday Sexism, who call out such behaviour that makes women feel terrible and violated, would have to say about that.
Filling the ‘romantic’ aspect of the film is Adam and Phoebe. Ruffalo and Paltrow are perfectly cast and have a nice chemistry but their cutesy banter borders on the insufferable, and it is only when they start to strike at the heart of their problems that their storyline rings true.
Not able to make a story about sex addiction with a little drama, Mike’s family troubles, and his inability to acknowledge that he skipped one vital step of the 12 step program strikes a chord with the viewer, even though the climax of the film becomes a little overwhelming when all the three character’s issues happen to come to a head on the same night.
While taking on such an unusual and often sidelined topic should be applauded, this is the only area that steps outside the box as the script follows all the traditional storyline beats. The film does often strike a nice balance between serious an light, and there are fine performances throughout, but by splitting the story in three it is hard to really get to the route of each character’s problem, and the film overall comes across as too shallow and neat for such a damaging condition.
One to catch at home instead of the cinema.