Review: ‘Thanks For Sharing’ Cleverly Portrays Sex Addiction with Comedic Tone

By September 20, 2013
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Thanks For Sharing (2013)Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow

Thanks for Sharing is one of two of this fall’s releases that explores addiction in a comedic manner. Written and directed by Stuart Blumberg, the film humorously sheds light on sex addiction and is not unlike Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s forthcoming Don Jon. (That film follows a young man grappling with a damaging reliance on porn.)

Set in New York City, Thanks for Sharing follows Adam (a stellar Mark Ruffalo), who has been recovering from sex addiction for five years. Adam seems to have his addiction under control. He attends regular Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings, has a great relationship with his sponsor Mike (Tim Robbins) and provides guidance for Neil (Josh Gad), who is in the early stages of recovery.

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Adam’s strength is tested when he meets and falls for Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow). The two are initially in the throes of romantic bliss, but when Adam shares the details of his battle, Phoebe’s reaction is far from empathetic. Their rocky relationship proves to be the ultimate test of Adam’s sobriety.

Mike, who has had the continued support of his wife (Joely Richardson), is also grappling with alcohol addiction and a damaged relationship with his drug-abusing son (Patrick Fugit). Gad’s Neil character provides much of the film’s comic relief and he forms a friendship with fellow sex addict Dede (Alecia Moore, aka Pink), blossoming into unconditional support for one another.

The three men struggle to retain their “sexual sobriety” in a city that, as Mike puts it, is “one big catwalk.” They’re constantly surrounded by sexed-up advertisements and struggle to interact with everyday women.

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Gad and Moore’s performances account for why their storyline is the best in the dramedy. The actors could have easily headlined their own film. Gad impressively carries much of the story’s heart and innocence, while Moore gives Dede an appealing edge and creates a character that is believable and well-rounded. The weakest plot point is Mike’s story, as it’s mostly something we’ve seen before and proves all too predictable.

Like, Steve McQueen’s unsettling 2011 drama Shame, this film is an important one as it illustrates an addiction that many still question the validity of; a disease that 12 million people suffer from in the U.S. alone. Blumberg, who penned the magnificent The Kids Are All Right, again manages to craft a story that is clever and heartbreaking at the same time. Take Adam’s line that overcoming sex addiction is like “trying to quit crack while the pipe is attached to your body.” Sure it’s funny, but we also get a clear idea of how difficult his recovery has been.

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Justine Browning
Justine is a film and culture reporter whose work has appeared in USA Today, Indie Wire and The Huffington Post. She currently serves as an on-camera correspondent for MovieWeb and Cine Movie TV.