You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Thanks for Sharing

There's no "Shame" in "Thanks for Sharing," a populist and more ensemble-driven take on the issue of sex addiction that will likely earn more but not travel as far on the fest circuit as last year's Michael Fassbender starrer.

Adam - Mark Ruffalo
Phoebe - Gwyneth Paltrow
Mike - Tim Robbins
Katie - Joely Richardson
Danny - Patrick Fugit
Neil - Josh Gad
Dede - Alecia Moore

There’s no “Shame” in “Thanks for Sharing,” a populist and more ensemble-driven take on the issue of sex addiction that will likely earn more but not travel as far on the fest circuit as last year’s Michael Fassbender starrer. Co-written and directed by Stuart Blumberg (“The Kids Are All Right”), this feel-good look at a condition many refuse to acknowledge as a disease skips the self-pity and gets right to the heart of the issue: namely, the very real problems sex addicts have in creating interpersonal relationships, as Mark Ruffalo’s five-years-sober charmer attempts to court a new flame (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Ruffalo plays Adam, a man defined not by his job, as so many film characters are, but by the force that threatens to keep him from doing it. Though he has clearly developed a system for keeping the urges at bay — one that involves locking his laptop, removing porn-delivering TVs from hotel rooms and calling his sponsor, Mike (Tim Robbins), for support — Adam lives in Manhattan, where triggers abound. In summer, beautiful women crowd the sidewalks, while every bus stop and billboard broadcasts flesh for sale, a message reinforced by Christopher Lennertz’s tribal-sounding score.

“Get thee to a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting,” the city seems to be telling those constantly on the brink of uncontrollably groping the eye candy around them. Once there, Mike has just the line to summarize why many find recovery so hard: “It’s like trying to quit crack while the pipe’s still attached to your body.” Blumberg and Matt Winston’s script is full of such aphorisms which, however clever, make the film start to sound, after a while, like a Stuart Smalley-hosted 12-step segment.

But the pic means well and looks great, bathing Gotham in that same golden glow that made Los Angeles so redolent of red wine, candles and freshly mowed grass in “The Kids Are All Right.” It’s not necessarily the right look for Blumberg’s latest subject, but it’s one that will help it book screens in megaplexes.

The commercial-minded half of the creative duo (with Lisa Cholodenko) on “Kids,” Blumberg once again demonstrates a facility for making audiences laugh at potentially uncomfortable material. But he also misses the human details that help to dimensionalize, resulting in characters defined by their function to the script: Josh Gad as the undisciplined newbie too noncommittal to stay clean for even a day; Alecia Moore (aka Pink) as the woman whose only experience with men has been sexual; Patrick Fugit as the disappointing son destined to help Mike over the last hurdle in his own recovery; and Paltrow as the ultimate temptation for Adam, a woman who comes on strong, insisting, “I’m a very sexual person, and I need to express that side of me.”

Collectively, “Thanks for Sharing” boasts more than enough personalities to keep things interesting, but it lacks the casual spontaneity to make these characters’ journeys anything other than predictable. Without baring quite so much of himself as Fassbender did in “Shame,” Ruffalo more convincingly conveys the torment of irrepressible sexual desire, particularly when coping with rejection from a mate as promising as Paltrow’s Phoebe. (Thankfully, the pic doesn’t play the too-scared-to-tell-her card for long.)

Gad’s Neil, whose participation in SAA was court-ordered, is a far tougher character to watch, particularly since the film punches up his reprobate behavior with grotesque and humiliating physical comedy. Still, as the story’s underdog, the likable comic gets one of the film’s most redemptive moments.

Overall, “Thanks for Sharing” reflects the same supportive attitude toward its characters that their recovery group does, while also serving to educate date-night auds about a condition very much in the zeitgeist. Even so, the romantic-comedy form seems a strange choice for such a tale, leaving several unanswered questions, such as, why is it OK for Adam to fool around with Phoebe, but not a hooker? And, if the film intends to show only one sex scene, why choose the latter over a moment of shared intimacy?

Popular on Variety

Thanks for Sharing

Production: A Voltage Pictures presentation of an Olympus Pictures, Class 5 Films production. (International sales: Voltage Pictures, Los Angeles.) Produced by William Migliore, David Koplan, Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Mirande de Pencier. Executive producer, Edward Norton. Directed by Stuart Blumberg. Screenplay, Blumberg, Matt Winston.

Crew: Camera (color), Yaron Orbach; editor, Anne McCabe; music, Christopher Lennertz; music supervisor, Robin Urdang; production designer, Beth Mickle; art director, Ada Smith; set decorator, Lisa K. Nilsson; costume designer, Peggy Schnitzer; sound (Dolby Digital), Antonio Arroyo; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Lewis Goldstein; visual effects supervisor, Luke Ditommaso; visual effects, the Molecule; stunt coordinator, Manny Siverio; associate producer/assistant director, Doug Torres; casting, Avy Kaufman. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 8, 2012. Running time: 112 MIN.

With: Adam - Mark Ruffalo
Phoebe - Gwyneth Paltrow
Mike - Tim Robbins
Katie - Joely Richardson
Danny - Patrick Fugit
Neil - Josh Gad
Dede - Alecia Moore
With: Carol Kane, Emily Meade, Isiah Whitlock Jr.

More Film

  • "Tezuka's Barbara" in competition at Tokyo

    ‘Tezuka’s Barbara’ and ‘A Beloved Wife’ Head for Tokyo Festival Competition

    Two Japanese films, “Tezuka’s Barbara” and “A Beloved Wife” have been selected for the main competition section of next month’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will reveal the remainder of the competition and the bulk of its other selections later this month. To date the Japanese festival has only revealed its opening film (“Tora-san, [...]

  • Garin Nugroho film "Memories of my

    Indonesia Selects Controversial 'Memories' as Oscar Contender

    “Memories of my Body” directed by Garin Nugroho has been selected to represent Indonesia at the Academy Awards in the best foreign-language film category. The announcement was made on Tuesday by actress Christine Hakim representing the Indonesian Film Selection Committee. The fact-based film depicts the story of a young man from a dance troupe that [...]

  • Benjamin Wallfisch - scoring session, Abbey

    Composer Benjamin Wallfisch Signs With Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency

    Composer Benjamin Wallfisch has signed with the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency (GSA) for worldwide representation, in partnership with London-based agency COOL Music Ltd. A top composer, whose scoring credits include “It Chapter Two,” Shazam!” Hellboy,” “Hidden Figures” and “Hostile Planet,” among others, Wallfisch has worked on over 75 feature films and is a member of the BAFTA [...]

  • The Moneychanger

    Toronto Film Review: ‘The Moneychanger’

    Uruguayan auteur Federico Veiroj (“The Apostate,” “Belmonte”) broadens his usual intimate dramatic scope to diminishing returns for his fifth feature, “The Moneychanger,” . Adapted from a novella by compatriot Juan Enrique Gruber, the period (mid-1950s to mid-1970s) tale centers on the eponymous character, an amoral currency exchanger, who winds up laundering some of the dirtiest [...]

  • Send Me to the Clouds

    Film Review: ‘Send Me to the Clouds’

    The social and economic pressures felt by China’s “leftover women” — referring to those older than 26 and unmarried — are examined in “Send Me to the Clouds,” a rewarding dramedy about a 30-ish journalist seeking financial reward and sexual fulfillment after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Bold by mainland standards for presenting a positive [...]

  • Jamie Bell Without Remorse

    Jamie Bell Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse' Adaptation (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jamie Bell is in final negotiations to join Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of the Tom Clancy novel “Without Remorse.” Stefano Sollima, who most recently helmed “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” is directing from a script by “Sicaro” screenwriter Taylor Sheridan. As previously announced, Jordan is starring as operations officer John Clark, also known [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content