Of all the addictive disorders, sex addiction seems ripest for cheap rom-com laughs. Thanks for Sharing thankfullyrejects them in favour of a nuanced character study throwing light on the nature of addiction. Stuart Blumberg, an Oscar nominee for co-writing The Kids Are Alright, makes a strong directorial debut with this story of recovering sex addict Adam (the dependably likeable Mark Ruffalo) struggling to maintain focus in New York City’s stew of raunchy billboards and attractive women. Adam attends AA-style support group meetings with fellow sex addicts Mike (Tim Robbins) and Neil (Josh Gad). The group’s patriarch, Mike initially appears the most stable, supporting the others and enjoying a happy marriage with his high school sweetheart (Joely Richardson). Neil, on the other hand, is an overweight young doctor who lies about his sobriety, grinds against women in the subway and attempts to film under his boss’s skirt. It’s a testament to Gad’s performance that Neil emerges as the most sympathetic of the three: perverts are real people too, who’d a thunk it?
After five years of abstinence Adam tentatively pursues a relationship with exercise junkie Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow) but keeps the truth about his addiction from her. Mike’s equanimity is threatened by the reappearance in his life of his son (Patrick Fugit), also a recovering addict. And Neil forms a bond with female sex addict Dede (portrayed with great charisma by Alecia Moore, better known as Australia’s favourite touring popstar Pink). Their friendship enlivens a gloomy third act offering a disquieting but necessary insight into Adam’s demons. Despite this trip to the dark side, Thanks for Sharing ultimately delivers an upbeat lesson in replacing a dependence on sex with something more fulfilling and less sweaty.