Monday, September 23, 2013
Thanks For Sharing
Stuart Blumberg's "Thanks for Sharing" isn't exactly as searing a portrait of sex addiction as Steve McQueen's "Shame," but it's true enough to its subject to earn our goodwill, and rewards us by getting appreciably better - smarter and funnier - as it goes on.
We are introduced to three New York City men at various stages of recovery. Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is celebrating five years of sobriety, defined as no sexual activity (including masturbation) outside of a committed relationship. Neil (Josh Gad) is an emergency room doctor who binge-eats and gets in trouble for frottage on the subway and secreting a camera phone up his chief physician's skirt. Mike (Tim Robbins) is the elder statesman of the recovery group, the kind of guy who lives and breathes meetings and late-night rap sessions with his sponsees.
When Adam meets Phoebe (a very fetching Gwyneth Paltrow) at a party and begins dating her, it's not just his willpower that's tested but his integrity. She's lately out of a relationship with an alcoholic and tells Adam she can never again see an addict. Will Adam tell her of his sex addiction? When? And how? Interesting stuff. The material involving Neil, who's under court order to participate in the group, works less well. Though he claims a 30-day chip early in the movie, it's clear he can't go 24 hours without some form of improper stimulus or response. He befriends Dede (Alecia Moore, aka the singer Pink), who's never had a non-sexual relationship of any kind with a man. Moore's just sort of skanky, and when she's given the line "I've never been just friends with a guy before. It's really…hot," it thuds, especially when delivered to Gad. Mike, meanwhile, has work of his own to do. He's estranged from his drug-abusing adult son Danny (Patrick Fugit), who shows up unexpectedly asking to move back home. Fugit will always have a huge soft spot in my heart for his performance as young William Miller in the nonpareil "Almost Famous," and here he takes a somewhat stock part and finds subtleties and unexpected places to take it.
"Thanks for Sharing" starts out a bit buffoonish and always feels like a movie (complete with 555 phone numbers, the bane of my existence), but it's worth seeing for Fugit and the sexy and funny interplay between Ruffalo and Paltrow, two of the more attractive actors working today.