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New Release Review - Thanks For Sharing

Three men struggle with their sex addiction.

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




Adam (Ruffalo), Mike (Robbins) and Neil (Gad) are three men in varying stages of a twelve-step program to cure their sex addiction. When Adam meets Phoebe (Paltrow) he neglects telling her of his condition and struggles with the sexual side of their budding relationship. Mike is estranged from his former drug-addict son, Danny (Fugit), who returns to the family home, claiming to have stopped using; a claim Mike finds hard to swallow. Neil is an overweight doctor who has been court ordered to attend the program following an arrest for molesting female passengers on the subway.
At one point in 'Thanks For Sharing' (you'll wish they hadn't), Neil jokes that the phrase "Postal Service" is an oxymoron, provoking an argument with Mike, who disagrees. I'm not familiar with the efficiency of the US Postal Service so can't personally comment. I can tell you one phrase, however, that's most definitely an oxymoron - "Self Help Group".
Stuart Blumberg's directorial debut is little more than a propaganda piece for Anonymous (the Christian recovery group, not the hackers) and will likely be the most offensive film you'll see all year. As a screenwriter, Blumberg has pushed his right-wing religious agenda previously; his debut 'Keeping the Faith' featured a priest and a rabbi as its leads and 'The Kids Are Alright' propagated the despicable myth that lesbians can be "turned" by a hunky hetero male. His latest effort features blatant lies about how the Anonymous twelve-steps program works. In one particularly anger-inducing scene, Neil tells Adam he thinks he may not be suited to the group as he's an atheist, to which he is basically told to "get over himself", as if atheism is little more than a form of immature rebellion. Adam then claims the "higher power" Anonymous attendees must find doesn't have to be the "big man in the sky", which is a bare-faced lie. Anonymous is a Christian run group that requires its members to "accept Jesus into their lives". Finding your "higher power" through alternative dance, as seen here, won't cut it with these bible-bashers.
The representation of addiction is incredibly offensive here, dealt with in the simplistic manner 'Crash' tackled the issue of race. Blumberg seems to think all addictions, sex, drugs, alcohol, are interchangeable, ("this whole addict thing" as Paltrow refers to it at one point) and can be cured by hanging out with your "sponsies". The most offensive moment of all comes when the film implies that sex addiction is as serious a condition as cancer. Sorry, but you can't relieve the pain of cancer with a quick bit of hand relief. Sex addiction is one of those curious conditions that only seems to affect rich white males, as people with real concerns, like keeping a roof over their heads, don't have time for such "problems". Forgive me for not taking it too seriously.
Apart from the conservative religious agenda being pushed, there's plenty more to provide offence. An overweight character mined for cheap laughs. A black man who needs the help of a white man. Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow is possibly the most despised actress working today and it's impossible to take her relationship with Ruffalo here seriously. The part calls for her to be "quirky" and Paltrow looks incredibly uncomfortable throughout, as does Ruffalo, who looks like he's constipated for much of the running time. Apart from Fugit, an actor who needs a better agent, and Richardson, nobody here is remotely likable.
It's worrying that people actually take these Anonymous programs seriously and if they make you behave as irresponsibly as the characters do here, then it's a system that seriously needs campaigning against. When Adam has a suicidal girl locked in his bathroom, rather than calling 911 like any rational person, he calls a fellow sex addict. The "therapy" handed out by the program the three men attend is terrifying in its implications. At the start of the movie, we're told Adam hasn't indulged in sex, not even masturbation, for five years. No wonder he looks constipated. Neil, (whose problem, to any rational person at least, clearly isn't that he's addicted to sex, it's that he badly needs to get laid), is likewise told to give up relieving himself. To me this sounds like a perfect way to turn an otherwise harmless man into a rapist.
The attendees of the program are told they can have sex so long as it's as part of a committed relationship, which tells you exactly what the real agenda is here. The great hypocrisy is that, for a movie that tells us sex is bad, the main image being employed to promote 'Thanks For Sharing' is that of a lingerie clad Paltrow.
To paraphrase Nicole Kidman's advice to Tom Cruise at the end of 'Eyes Wide Shut', the people who propagate this conservative anti-sex  agenda badly need to fuck.
1/10


Eric Hillis