September 9, 2012


Stuart Blumberg’s first film as a director (his screenwriting credits include The Kids Are All Right), THANKS FOR SHARING, never quite manages to solve its own central problem:  how to make a sensitive and funny (and not harrowing) movie on the subject of sex addiction.

We’ve had the harrowing version, of course, with Steve McQueen’s brilliant Shame, but that movie won critical acclaim (and some attacks) and found mostly empty seats. Sharing is intended to be much more audience-friendly.  The problem with the subject matter is that sex addiction, especially in a movie that wants to include some broad humor, can easily play as a joke, a mere alibi for the kind of sexual behavior we celebrate in Judd Apatow movies.

Blumberg cheats, in a sense.  His movie revolves around 4 recovering addicts:  Adam (Mark Ruffalo), a successful executive who’s been sober for 5 years; Mike (Tim Robbins), a salt of the earth contractor who’s Adam’s sponsor and who’s been sober for 15 years; Adam (Josh Gad), a young doctor who’s new to the program; and Dede (the singing star Pink), one of the few women in the program, who’s just started trying to get sober.  But Mike and Dede are also alcohol and/or drug abusers, which explains at least some of their behavior, and Adam may we well be a virgin who’s addicted to masturbation and porn rather than actual sex, since he never comes close to having any during the film’s length.  Even Adam,, the closest the movie comes to a Michael Fassbender character from Shame, is depicted at hitting buttom as much because of the wretched kinks of his partner for the night as for his own actions.

The movie is constructed very much like a TV dramedy, with each of the characters having a neat interrelated arc.  Adam is beginning his forst real romance in 5 years, with Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow); Mike faces tensions with his wife (Joely Richardson) and son (Patrick Fugit), when the latter, himself a recovering drug addict, comes back to town; Adam won’t admit how serious his addiction is; and Dede has to learn how the program works.  By the end of the movie, all 4 have suffered reversals (and we see every one of them coming) and gotten past them, ready for the next episode.  (The movie also looks no more stylish than a TV show, too, with  little atmosphere despite being shot on location in NY.)

The most successful story is the one involving the growing friendship (and that means just friendship) of Adam and Dede, both because it’s the funniest thanks to Gad, and the one least burdened with contrivance.  The Adam/Phoebe story has strong moments, but it’s held back by Blumberg not wanting to go too dark, so that there can still be a positive outcome.  Although Robbins, Richardson and Fugit are all fine, the Mike story is the most mechanical and predictable.

Thanks For Sharing has its heart in the right place, and it delivers some solid laughs and schmaltz.  Insight and true exploration of its difficult topic, though, will have to be found somewhere else.



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About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."