I’m told that catchy Internet headlines should contain a number, a how-to, and an exaggerated guarantee. So far, so good. Now, if I could only get a celebrity name in there… wait, I can do that:
JOSH GAD, PINK, MARC RUFFALO AND TIM ROBBINS SHOW YOU HOW TO OVERCOME SEX ADDICTION IN 12 EASY STEPS!!
Okay, too long. But that’s the premise of the romantic-comedy Thanks For Sharing, about a group of New Yorkers in 12-step recovery. Getting sober from sex addiction, says one of the addicts, “is like trying to quit crack when the pipe is attached to your body.” Add to that all the usual messiness of human relationship – be it with family or friend or future lover – and you have a set-up for drama, humor, and heat.
Now, any actor will tell you they’d rather play the Devil than play God. Evil is just hotter than good. It’s thrilling to see someone spiral into darkness from alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction or romantic obsession: Leaving Las Vegas, Shame, Requiem for a Dream, Endless Love… they all get more attention than, say, Drunks. Who wants to watch people getting well?
Stuart Blumberg and Matt Winston did. They thought it would make an interesting dramatic quest. Blumberg wrote 2010’s warm and funny The Kids Are Alright — Ruffalo played the bio-dad of a lesbian couple’s children – and was, coincidentally, a college roommate of producer Edward Norton. (Yes, that is how movies get made.) Gwyneth Paltrow, Joely Richardson, Patrick Fugit and Carol Kane round out the cast. I have no idea if any of these people are in 12-step recovery, but they sure do a great job of portraying it. Anyone even thinking about writing an AA or NA or Alanon scene into their next script should be made to watch this first.
Not that watching Thanks for Sharing is homework. It’s funny, touching, romantic and even suspenseful. Sure, it’s a low-budget talkfest, but I like watching smart people talk. The performances are terrific, not just the expected (Tim Robbins as a Big Book-thumper with unconditional love for everyone except his son) but also the surprising, like Pink (aka Alecia Moore) in her first role, helping Josh Gad navigate a rocky journey from sleazeball to goofball.
You also get to see Gwyneth Paltrow in black lace lingerie, if that sort of thing appeals to you. In which case, you may care that Pepper Potts gets it on with The Hulk.
Thanks for Sharing opens Sept. 20, and I confidently predict a niche audience of, oh, 3 to 5 million Americans. Can’t say exactly, though, ‘cause, you know. They’re anonymous.