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Film Reviews Thanks for Sharing: Schmaltzy take on sex addiction? No thanks

2 out of 4 stars

Written by
Stuart Blumberg, Matt Winston
Directed by
Stuart Blumberg
Starring
Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow
Classification
18A
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2012

Thanks for Sharing might best be described as being like Steve McQueen's sex-addiction drama, Shame, if it were rewritten by Neil Simon at his most schmaltzy.

Tonal clash is the dominant problem in this serio-comedy from debut director Stuart Blumberg, part of a current mini-cycle of films about erotic addictions.

While sex addiction may be popular on grocery-store magazine stands and movie marquees, the condition is in a diagnostic grey area of destructive compulsions. Blumberg, while mostly treating sex addiction as a serious "disease," also can't resist milking one-liners from the dilemma: "It's like trying to quit crack while the pipe's still attached to your body," explains Mike (Tim Robbins), a 12-step veteran.

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The New York-set film focuses on three men with problematic compulsions.

The most serious storyline focuses on Mike, a veteran of group therapy who is much given to aphorisms and has unresolved issues, principally around his ex-drug-addict son, a subplot that demonstrates how compulsions can create lasting harm for families.

The most slapstick story is about Neil (Josh Gad), an immature emergency-room doctor with an overeating disorder who's doing court-assigned therapy for subway frottage. After losing his job for further transgressions, Neil finally begins to take his recovery seriously, through his platonic relationship with the group's only female member, Dede (Alecia Moore, better known as the singer Pink, in a nicely grounded performance).

But the weakest story here is also the central one. It follows environmental consultant Adam (Mark Ruffalo), who has avoided erotic experiences, including computers, televisions and masturbation, for a heroically long five years. Soon after his sponsor, Mike, tells Adam it's time to get back in the dating game, Adam meets Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), a cancer survivor with food and fitness issues.

From the start, their relationship feels gratingly cutesy and Phoebe's smug behaviour is largely inexplicable. On learning that Adam is a recovering sex addict she decides to do a lap dance for him in fetish lingerie, which presumably is intended as an amusing movie moment, but feels about as friendly as giving a case of Scotch to an alcoholic as a sobriety award.

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