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Chris: Definitely.
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Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Movie Rewind: THANKS FOR SHARING (2013)

Director: Stuart Blumberg
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, Joely Richardson, Josh Gad, Alecia Moore, Patrick Fugit, Carol Kane

There are many films and stories out there about alcoholics and drug addicts. You do not see too many regarding sex addiction. Even one of the characters questions if that is even a "thing" or not. Adam (Ruffalo) is celebrating another milestone in his sex addiction support group. He seems fully aware of his triggers and is pretty strong at being committed to his recovery. His sponsor/mentor and fellow addict Mike (Robbins) is there to celebrate with him. Mike's past addiction has caused a rift in his family as he has a strained relationship with his son Danny (Fugit), who also struggles with abuse. Neil (Gad) and Dede (Moore) are the newest members of the group each coming in with their own baggage.

The film is an ensemble story that follows each of our addicts and their road to recovery. Adam starts a relationship with health nut and cancer survivor Phoebe (Paltrow). The risks of starting a new and healthy relationship prove hard for someone struggling with sex addiction and knowing what boundaries they are comfortable with together. She also makes it clear that she does not want to date an addict. Mike and his wife (Richardson) have conflicting thoughts when Danny shows up unexpectedly and wants to live at their place for some time. Trust between both of them comes into play. Dede and Neil are always there for each other as they are quick to slip up while on the program.

Like I previously mentioned, you do not see many stories about sexual addiction unless it is about some celebrity using that as an excuse to help their image. This film shines a light on the aftermath of what it is like in the recovery stages. One of the biggest takeaways is the power of the support group. The support group is the safe ground for our characters to talk about their struggles and accomplishments they have had in recovery. They are surrounded by people that truly know what they are going through. Long lasting friendships and new relationships begin at group between sponsors and their sponsees. The bond and connection they have for each other is so vital in the recovery process as it helps each one of them stay accountable and can be a knowledgeable resource if someone feels at a breaking point or in jeopardy of falling off the bandwagon. This story follows these characters who are all at different stages of their recovery, but I wanted to know more about the recovery process. Mike has spent much of his adult life in recovery. Adam is starting to date again and is conflicted about what will set him over the edge. Are there certain rules in a sex addiction support group about what is or isn't allowed or is it all based on that individual? Obviously with alcoholics anonymous or a drug addiction group, those vices are strictly forbidden. Does the same hold true in this instance?

Writer/Director Stuart Blumberg is making his directorial debut here. He previously co-wrote the Oscar-nominated hit The Kids Are All Right with Lisa Cholodenko. If you are looking for a dark and heavy-hitting drama, you will not find that here. Don't get me wrong as there are some serious moments that are very touching and sincere, but the film takes a more positive and hopeful look at these people in their recovery stages. Josh Gad and Alecia Moore have been given more of the lighter and comedic story lines using Gad's natural broad physical comedy type of routine we know he is very capable of. You may not recognize the name Alecia Moore as you probably know her as the singer Pink. This is the second film she has been in and feels right at home on screen. There is a life and effervescence about her even though acting is not her claim to fame. Sometimes singers can have a hard time transitioning from song to screen, but Moore/Pink makes a flawless transition. Here is hoping she continues on in this field in between her successful albums. Patrick Fugit is another standout here with some wonderful scenes between him and Robbins. Robbins actually introduced Fugit to this screenplay and helped him get the part. I have been a fan of his ever since Almost Famous. Blumberg has received some flack about writing dopey characters in his screenplay, but I disagree. I found all of them believable and easy to relate to in some aspect. I think the idea behind sex addiction is still fairly unknown so people may be more hesitant to buy into these characters or story lines if they have issues with sex addiction as a whole or if they have never stepped foot into a support group of any sort whether its for AA, drug addiction, food addiction, etc... Blumberg uses fairly normal everyday people as the subjects here and shows that really anyone can have this sort of issue or problem and that you might not even know it.

Thanks for Sharing was a little indie film that came out around the end of summer 2013. It may have gotten lost in the shuffle due to the summer season winding down or it's mediocre reviews. It serves as a good introduction to people that may be unfamiliar with sex addiction while taking a look at the recovery end of it. There are some funny moments along the way and the obligatory scenes to pull at the heart strings. Blumberg has a good cast of actors from a variety of backgrounds to pull it off nicely.

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

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