Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is a handsome, young nymphomaniac living in New York and trying to overcome his sex addiction with his sponsor and buddy Mike (Tim Robbins) a recovering alcoholic. He has been “sober” for five years, so Mike has decided for him that it’s okay to get back in the dating game. Adam is reluctant at first, but then meets this hot blonde Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), who’s just to good to be true (or real). Meanwhile, Neil (Josh Gad) a slightly overweight compulsive sex maniac, is forced by court order to get in the twelve step program, where he meets Adam and Mike.
Another subplot involves Dede (Alecia Moore aka Pink) a troubled young woman who only seems able to connect with men through sex. Yet another subplot centers around Danny (Patrick Fugit), Mike’s son a former drug addict, who “surprises” his parents when he shows up at their home out of nowhere. Family drama and a couple punches are inevitable, but why hit your own mother (Joely Richardson)? As if those subplots weren’t enough: Here’s Becky (Emily Meade) a seemingly sweet and innocent nymphette who likes to be slapped, but is also crazy.
I must say when I first saw the trailers for this film I was looking forward to see Stuart Blumberg‘s directorial debut. Unfortunately, The Kids Are All Right co-writer’s directing skills aren’t as good as you’d think. A part from that the big let down in this film is the script, which is just too messy and unfocused. I purposely wrote a longer-than-usual plot synopsis to show just how convoluted this film is, plot-wise. The film tries to tie everything together and show how everyone’s connected, but at times it feels as if you’re watching a TV show or a better than average soap opera.
The upside of Thanks For Sharing is definitely the cast. You don’t even need a director with people like Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow or Josh Gad. These guys are pros, they can direct themselves. However when the lines and situations they’re put in feel staged and inauthentic and every joke is scripted and almost unnatural, they’re almost wasted in a film like this. While the filmmakers get the addictions part right and show how it is to be an addict, the relapse, the temptations, they forget to show withdrawal.
Now of course this is a comedy, with dramatic elements, and that wouldn’t look pretty in a film like this, but it would have added some realism to the story. Realism however doesn’t really seem what the director is interested in. Coincidences, almost “magical” occurrences and all sorts of cheap plot-devices are used, but what’s the point of the film? Taking it one step at the time? Wow, that’s original and new. I’m not trying to bash this film too much, because again the addiction part is spot on from what I know about addictions, but the story as a whole just doesn’t work that well.
It’s a shame, because I liked the overall tone and even some of the humor of the film (when it felt spontaneous and organic, coming from the characters and the situations). I liked that it showed how everyone is fallible and how everyone’s addicted to something (yeah, like that Boys Like Girls song). I believe that people are fooling themselves if they believe they’re completely free from any addiction. It’s a good message to have. It’s good to remind people that we can constantly improve ourselves. I don’t know if that was really the intent of the filmmaker, but that’s how I see it.
Visually, there’s not much going on. There’s a definite, very bright color palette. The camera does do some interesting things at times, but again I have to ask myself: In service of what? Of the story? To show off how cool you are? I don’t know. Maybe this film would have worked better as a straight up drama or comedy. Maybe it’s not even that, if they would have just focussed on Mark Ruffalo’s charter, they would have had more breathing room and could have made a deeper, more interesting character piece.
The third act is completely rushed and it doesn’t feel like the characters really earn their catharsis. Overall I was a bit disappointed by Thanks for Sharing, but there’s far worse movies out there as well. Maybe I’m so hard on it, because I saw its potential to be great (or at least good), considering the cast and the writers, but then it didn’t do much with its interesting premise. One thing I’ll say though it’s that it’s far better than a film like Don Jon. If you want a good film about sex addiction however I recommend Steve McQueen’s Shame.
Here’s to hoping that Lars von Trier’s Nymphomanic is as good as it looks!
Rating on First Viewing: 6.5 out of 10