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Sex addicts clean up in ‘Thanks for Sharing’

Sex addiction has become an alarming and salient disease.

While many see it as a grandiose myth men use to explain away infidelity, Thanks for Sharing — albeit long-winded, overly dramatized, and disastrously scripted — attempts to clarify those misconceptions.

Thanks for Sharing
Rating: R
Running time: 112 min.
Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad

Three distinctly defined people bonded by a common sickness undergo a 12-step program to treat their sexual addiction.

Adam (Mark Ruffalo), now five years clean, is embarking on a genuine romance with Phoebe, a sexually driven triathlete played by Gwyneth Paltrow.

Then there’s Adam’s sponsor, Mike (Tim Robbins), a happily married man attempting to patch up his relationship with his recovering alcoholic son (played by Patrick Fugit).

Also thrown into the middling narrative mix is Neil (Josh Gad), a hefty 20-something seeking guidance and advice from Adam. When Neil finally decides to dedicate himself, Dede (a rambunctious sex addict played by Pink) befriends the lonely lovable loser.

With Thanks for Sharing being Stuart Blumberg’s directorial debut, he clearly understands the severity of sex addiction and how it can downright destroy one’s life.

However, Blumberg and screenwriter Matt Winston’s final product is neither serious enough nor comedic enough to make a statement on the polemical subject.

The three disparate story lines interact with fluidity, but little substance. None of the characters are particularly fascinating or relatable.

It’s always difficult watching someone suffer through self-caused pain. That said, I could hardly muster up enough energy to write that previous sentence, let alone become involved in the hardships these characters endure.

Beyond the sluggish pacing and disenchanting relationships, what confounds me is the release of Thanks for Sharing. 

With no foreseeable artistic vision in sight, it’s difficult to comprehend why anyone would distribute this vacuous and disposable drama, especially when you consider Steve McQueen’s Shame from 2011 – a dark, cold, harrowing, and unflinching portrait of the true psychological and physical ramifications of this tireless sexual disease.

One highlight of the film (and there aren’t many) is the surprisingly thoughtful turn from Pink, starring in her first major screen role.

In fact, all of the performances are quite affable. Paltrow and Ruffalo have some unexplored chemistry worthy of feature film of its own – Robbins too develops his acting abilities as a tyrant father unable to cope with the return of his son.

Thanks for Sharing isn’t necessarily actively repulsive or reprehensible. It’s just the type of wholly forgettable, perpetually grating, and immensely aggravating endeavor exploring a topic worthy of more affection, insight, and diligence.

At least in the end … we’ll always have Shame.

This article was originally published on Duke & the Movies.

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