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With: Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad, Joely Richardson, Patrick Fugit, Alecia Moore (Pink), Carol Kane, Emily Meade, Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Written by: Stuart Blumberg, Matt Winston
Directed by: Stuart Blumberg
MPAA Rating: R for language and some strong sexual content
Running Time: 112
Date: 09/20/2013

Thanks for Sharing (2013)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Share' Lift

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Sex is not often discussed in American movies. It raises our discomfort level, as proven by the consistency of the MPAA ratings. A lot of violence is tolerated in a PG-13 movie, while only a little sex boosts it to an R. Surprisingly, the new movie Thanks for Sharing not only acknowledges that we as human beings crave sex, but sometimes we crave it too much.

The movie takes place in a world of sex addicts. They all attend meetings, much like those of Alcoholics Anonymous, and they all know each other. Adam (Mark Ruffalo) takes his sobriety very seriously. He does not own a computer or a TV and uses a flip-phone with no internet connection. He has not dated anyone in five years. When he meets the beautiful Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), friends tell him it's time. The only problem is that she's had it with alcoholics and refuses to date another addict. How can Adam tell her?

Adam's mentor is Mike (Tim Robbins), who has seemingly been in treatment most of his adult life. Then there's Neil (Josh Gad), who spends his time brushing up against girls on the subway and filming upskirt movies. He is reluctant to begin recovery, until he becomes friendly with a new group member Dede (Alecia Moore, otherwise known as pop star Pink).

Thanks for Sharing is the directorial debut of screenwriter Stuart Blumberg, who received an Oscar nomination for The Kids Are All Right. Blumberg has very clearly researched his material, but perhaps because of his reverence to it, or perhaps because of the tricky taboo nature of it, he tends to soft-pedal. His movie has something of a sitcom sheen. Tough situations are presented through a cushion of safety.

The good news is that this cast -- including Pink, in her first serious movie part -- bring pulsating, organic life to their every moment. It's not clear whether Blumberg encouraged improvisation, but it often feels like these actors are actually living these wonderfully sloppy, awkward, tender moments, rather than reciting lines. This achievement is all the more profound considering that this is an ensemble cast, and not everyone has the benefit of tons of screen time.

Though Joseph Gordon Levitt's upcoming Don Jon is an overall stronger movie about the subject of sex addiction, the sympathetic characters in Thanks for Sharing, along with Blumberg's authentic details of this world, make it a big group hug of a movie.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray edition comes with a 15-minute studio-produced making-of featurette, about 9 minutes of deleted scenes, and a short gag reel. There's also a director and writer commentary track. The audio and video are very strong, even if this isn't the kind of movie that really shows off the format.

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