Thanks for Sharing Review
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This time of year, addiction dramas are a dime a dozen. In fact, just last year, Denzel Washington earned an Oscar nod for playing a high-flying addict in Robert Zemeckis’s Flight. But The Kids Are All Right writer Stuart Blumberg’s directorial debut, Thanks for Sharing, isn’t the same old addiction drama—and it isn’t about the same old addiction.

Thanks for Sharing stars Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, and Josh Gad as a trio of sex addicts in various stages of recovery. After staying “sober” for five years, Ruffalo’s Adam decides that it’s time to start dating again. But when he meets the perfect girl, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Phoebe, he’s hesitant to open up to her about his past.

Meanwhile, Adam’s sponsor, Mike (Robbins), is struggling to reconnect with his estranged son, Danny (Patrick Fugit). And the newest member of the group, Gad’s Neil, gets a serious wake-up call, making him realize that he can’t just coast through his court-ordered program. So with the encouragement of his sponsor, Adam, and another new member, Dede (Pink), he begins taking his recovery seriously.

In depicting the struggles of three different characters at different stages in their recovery, Thanks for Sharing offers an eye-opening look at a kind of addiction that isn’t often discussed. For these addicts, recovery doesn’t mean steering clear of bars and cutting ties with dealers. For them, temptation is everywhere—so recovery means, for example, avoiding the close confines of the subway. It means having the TV removed from hotel rooms and locking away the laptop. And it affects relationships in a way that no other kind of addiction does.

Fortunately, though, this isn’t a deep, heavy addiction drama. It doesn’t beat the audience over the head with the dark side of addiction. Sure, it’s there, always in the background—and each of the characters reaches that dark side at some point in the film. But, for the most part, it’s handled honestly but lightly, and the story is told using (mostly) lovable characters. Ruffalo is as charming as ever, and his character is just an easy-going, everyday guy—the kind of guy that you’d happily join at the bar on Friday night. Robbins, too, is sweet and relaxed. But, in both cases, it’s that lovable, laid-back demeanor that makes the dark moments all the more shocking.

Gad’s character, on the other hand, undergoes a different kind of transformation. In the beginning, he’s so horribly obnoxious that it’s almost painful to watch. His behavior is so completely over-the-top that it’s uncomfortable. And that, in his case, is what makes his transformation shocking—because, as he owns up to his weaknesses and begins taking his treatment seriously, he eventually turns into a surprisingly likable character.

Because of its subject matter, Thanks for Sharing isn’t always an easy film to watch. It isn’t just a wacky comedy—or a fluffy chick flick. But it isn’t a profound, award-worthy drama, either. It’s simply a charming—and enlightening—exploration of a different kind of addiction.

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