‘Thanks for Sharing’ takes a poignant look at sex addiction

Mark Ruffalo plays a recovering sex addict dating Gwyneth Paltrow in "Thanks for Sharing." Credit: Anne Joyce
Mark Ruffalo plays a recovering sex addict dating Gwyneth Paltrow in “Thanks for Sharing.”
Credit: Anne Joyce

‘Thanks for Sharing’
Director: Stuart Blumberg
Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Josh Gad
Rating: R
3 (out of 5) Globes

“Thanks for Sharing” will almost certainly wind up screened during support groups of all kinds, and not just for its chosen addiction: sex. That’s not exactly a compliment. It’s an extremely, almost comically basic movie. It feels like it’s been adapted not from a novel or even a self-help book but from a handout leaflet. The narrative conveniently follows three men at three dramatically different stages in their recovery process.

Neil (Josh Gad) is our trusty entryway into this world, a newbie who’s been busted for rubbing up against women on the MTA. His sponsor is Adam (Mark Ruffalo), a vet who’s been “clean” for years and seems to have come full circle. (Spoiler: Maybe he hasn’t!) Lording over them with a smug grin that masks some darker, more pompous intentions is Mike (Tim Robbins), the old fish of the group, who’s also an ex-alkie.

Their trajectories wind up being be exactly what you would imagine. On one hand, watching the film is an act of simply waiting for the right characters to backslide. Will Adam’s newfound relationship with Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow) go swimmingly? Or will his addiction prove too much for her to handle, prompting an epic wagon tumble? Will Neil, who doesn’t initially take the program seriously, prove the real winner, perhaps with the aid of a totally 100 percent platonic friendship with a fellow addict who looks like Pink (played by Pink, surprisingly winningly)? And surely nothing bad will happen when Mike’s estranged son (Patrick Fugit), himself a former junkie, pops up one night.

Predictability, however, isn’t an offense in itself, even when it’s as slap-your-forehead predictable as it is here. Though “Thanks for Sharing” hits every single point you’d expect in a sincere film about being in a 12-step program, it also hits plenty of smaller, more specific ones as well. It is a film clearly made by people who have had, if not first-hand experience with addiction (sex or otherwise), then been very close second-hand. Sex addiction is “in” right now — after “Shame,” there’s “Don Jon” — but “Thanks for Sharing” is the one that wrestles with it most directly.

It understands it generally and personally, and it has actors who know how to make even the most 101 scenes come from a real place. The most predictable part of the film may be that Ruffalo fares best, creating a character so sincere and at the same time so bottled up that when he does (spoiler) crash, revealing his real addict self, the revelation is nearly as disturbing as any in a David Lynch film. Though “Thanks for Sharing” starts out hoary, it, as they say, gets better.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

FDNY debuts new fire simulator for blazes at…

The New York City Fire Department christened its newest, state-of-the-art, custom-built simulator at its training academy on Randall's Island Tuesday.

Local

Bronx cop saves baby who stopped breathing

A Bronx police officer is credited with saving the life of a 2-month-old baby who stopped breathing Tuesday morning. Police Officer Johnny Castillo, 38, was…

Local

Brewer celebrates Women's Equality Day with voter pledge

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer celebrated Women’s Equality Day Tuesday by pledging to register at least five women voters before the Oct. 10 deadline. Brewer…

Local

NYPD looking for lewd D train rider

The NYPD is enlisting the public’s help to find a man they say performed a lewd act on the D train Saturday evening. The incident…

Entertainment

QUIZ: How many English words do you actually…

Are you as smart as you say you are? Are you a word nerd? Take this quick vocabulary test to find out if you're a true wordsmith. Good luck.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 12,…

If you've wondered whether Ali and Bethany knew each other, you got an answer tonight: Yes, and in a very tangled way. But many lingering…

Entertainment

Cymbals Eat Guitars Have Everything to 'LOSE'

At its most basic level, a rock band can be thought of as a family, a group of people selflessly devoted to a cause. When…

Entertainment

"Bachelor in Paradise" recap: Episode 4, 'Week Four'

Some things are hard to watch in a “Human Centipede” sort of way. Other things in an “American History X” sort of way. Does “Bachelor…

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.

Travel

Most popular Labor Day weekend destinations

Priceline.com released its Top 20 destinations for the end of summer, including Labor Day weekend. If you’re heading to any of these spots, expect a…

Wellbeing

Working your way to type 2 diabetes: Job…

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, a stressful job can be as risky for your health as a bad diet and no exercise. A…