I missed the press screening of Thanks for Sharing, so I headed over to the Reading Cinemas Town Square with another critic that also missed it.
It’s yet another movie about sex addiction (message to Hollywood: Can we give this topic a rest for a few years?).
The film seems to be trying to tell us that sex addiction is a real addiction, just like alcoholism, and that we should have sympathy for those with this fixation. Yet the movie plays a lot of their temptations for cheap laughs, and a lot of the premises they showed just aren’t authentic.
We meet characters in a 12 step program in different stages of recovery. Tim Robbins has been there for 15 years. He is a sponsor to Mark Ruffalo, and has a great relationship with him. The relationship with his son (Patrick Fugit) isn’t so hot. Ruffalo has been “sober” for five years and is finally starting to date again. He meets Gwyneth Paltrow in a meet-cute at a bug eating party. It actually was rather cute. That was the only time these two ever showed the least bit of chemistry. They just had one contrived scene after another, sounding like public service announcements when they spoke to each other. On their second date she announced, “I had breast cancer and had them removed.”
You’d have to be under the age of 12 to not realize that at some point later in the movie, she would yell at him for not confiding in her about his addiction, when she told him about her cancer. We also get to see that she has a few issues.
She works out to extremes, and the food on her plate can’t be touching; but back to the sex addicts.
The new guy in the group is Josh Gad, and Robbins takes an immediate disliking to him. That’s because he’s making jokes about how hard it is (no pun intended) to go without touching himself, or how he just joined the group for the free bagels. I’ve enjoyed Gad in the smaller roles I’ve seen him in (he was great as Steve Wozniak in Jobs), but he didn’t seem believable as a doctor. Yet the friendship he ends up having with singer Pink (who is also in the recovery group), is rather sweet and works. Yet I was wondering…would a recovery group for sex addicts, that is so strict with their rules, going to encourage members of the opposite sex to hang out and sponsor each other? Or encourage others to date and have sex, if it’s in the context of a committed relationship? When Robbins says that sex addiction is like “trying to quit crack when the pipe is attached to your body,” we cringe. We think about how tough that must be for them. Yet we aren’t given enough information about this addiction to realize why other things these characters get involved in isn’t dangerous territory (Paltrow wearing sexy lingerie for Ruffalo, Gad and Pink dancing at a rave, etc.).
As you’re watching this, you wonder about all these rules and how they work. It seems if Ruffalo has gone five years being celibate, he should be able to handle a TV being in his hotel room without being tempted to go to the porno channels. As Alan King said to James Woods in Cat’s Eye, when he went to quit smoking and complained about the cigarette vending machine in the lobby, “Availability is the least of your problems.”
It was also bizarre to hear characters talk in catch phrases that you might see on an AA pamphlet. At one point Robbins says, “United we stand, divided we stagger.”
It’s all so frustrating, because the movie had its moments. When Robbins and his son start to bond again over a backyard project, we’re rooting for them. Even though we know what’s coming.
Carol Kane, an actress I adore, seems to be relegated these last few years to playing the annoying Jewish mother. She does that as well.
Joely Richardson plays Robbins wife.
It’s a decent cast, but the film was written and directed by Stuart Blumberg rather poorly. It’s a shame. He co-wrote The Kids Are All Right, which was my favorite movie the year it came out.
The only characters that worked were both hardly in it; Poorna Jagannathan, as one of the doctors working with Gad. She doesn’t care for his sense of humor and creepiness.
There’s also Isiah Whitlock, Jr. He plays a recovering alcoholic that Robbins gets a job.
All the other characters and scenes come off as phony, and many you’ve seen in other movies portraying alcoholics.
There were so many forced scenes, poor dialogue, and lack of chemistry…the whole picture ends up being a real turn off.
It gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.