The 12-step program first began in 1939 for alcoholics. It combined spiritual insights and group meetings to help individuals cope with their addiction to demon spirits. Over the years, 12-step programs have been used in breaking different addictions, including sexual addiction. The story of Thanks for Sharing is about a group trying to get past temptation.
The tale focuses on a group of three men. Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is a man who has been trying to beat his devils for a few years, living a monk-like existence. His sponsor is Mike (Tim Robbins), a married man who has beaten more than his share of different demons over the years. He has what seems is a solid relationship with his wife but a rocky one with his son. The son has been fighting evil addiction spirits of his own, which include a prison stretch.
The third part of this triangle is Neil (Josh Gad). He is going to the 12-step program as a part of his court-ordered probation. Even though Neil is an emergency room doctor, he is a very immature young man. He has been lying about his accomplishments while beating his demons. He cannot control his impulses.
Added to this trio of screwed up men are different women. Phoebe (Gwyneth Platrow) is a recent breast cancer survivor who takes a shine to Adam. When they cute-meet, Phoebe tells Adam that she does not want an addict in her life. Honesty is one of the tenants of the program.
Dede (pop-star Pink) is a female sex addict who befriends Neil. Neil has never had a woman who is just a friend. There are also some emotional issues with his mother Roberta (Carol Kane).
The film is about the lives of these people and how their actions intersect the actions of others within their circle. Some of the people lie and cheat, they break down and cry. Most are affecting messes trying to navigate through the emotional waters that make up existence in the big city.
The story of the romance between Adam and Phoebe is honest in its strains. Both are individuals who need another but are too headstrong to admit it. The weaving of the relationship without true candor between them is a harbinger of doom they may not be able to surpass.
The most interesting of the stories is of Mike. He is seemingly a man who has it all together but is much weaker than he would ever let on. Unfortunately, the film takes a dive straight into Lifetime Movie Land by the time it gets to the ending. It becomes a bad cliché before all is said and done.
Josh Gad delivers yet another great performance in a thankless role. He is truly the only character one feels for in both pity and sorrow. It is a reading that shows both comedy and pathos, sometimes within the same beat of a scene. His character has the greatest emotional arc and Josh gives the reading an honest touch.
The women of Thanks for Sharing almost become an afterthought. Gwyneth Paltrow brings almost nothing to a role that is weakly written – she does not bring her A-game to this performance. Pink fairs just a bit better but she is treated more as one of the guys.
Director Stuart Blumberg is not sure what kind of a movie he wants to make. By trying to cover all sides of the sexual addiction world, he never chooses a side. At times, one would think this film is a tragedy and at other times it comes across as a bad sex comedy. There should have been a more direct focus with the screenplay, more of a weight on one story over the others. As it stands, it is a weak three-legged stool of a tale.
I’m not truly sure that sexual addiction is or is not a true addiction in the classic form. I guess anyone could be addicted to anything. More than once, one gets the feeling that these men are just guys being guys. Yes, some of their actions are creepy but many guys are creeps. Men have checked out women for as long as there have been women and men. Thanks for Sharing is a very mixed-bag of a film with a definite art house only feel. It is not a flick that the masses with enjoy. Yes, it has an impressive cast but it is sadly not an impressive movie.