Thanks for Sharing opens Friday

Thanks for Sharing is yet another misguided film that goes about painting a revealing yet nonjudgmental view of sex addiction. But unlike Shame, which portrayed sex addiction too grimly, or the upcoming Don Jon, which plays it for laughs, Thanks for Sharing tries to have it both waysand ends up failing almost immediately.

Set on the rather languid streets of Manhattan, Sharing features a bunch of recovering sex addicts doing their best not to let their bathing-suit areas think for them. Mark Ruffalo is a former sexaholic who worries that his years of meaningless freaking will prohibit him from having a healthy relationship with a breast cancer survivor (Gwyneth Paltrow). Their scenes of supposedly cute courtship just might be the most painful, cringe-worthy thing I’ve ever witnessedand I’ve seen my fair share of graphic, skateboarder fail videos on YouTube.

Meanwhile, Tim Robbins gets sanctimonious as a serial 12-stepper who can’t seem to make amends with his son (Patrick Fugit), also a recovering addict. And Josh Gad once again serves as roly-poly yet pathetic comic relief, playing a doctor/rampant pervert who seriously needs to get his shit in check after he gets fired for looking up his superior’s skirt with a hidden video camera.

Right from the jump, Thanks for Sharing exhibits a wrongheadedness so apparent that it makes sitting through the movie a blistering chore. Just like he did in the Oscar-nominated script for The Kids Are All Right he co-wrote, debut director Stuart Blumberg gives us a lazy, smugly plotted tale full of dull characters who all share a common characteristic: They think they’re wise and worldly, but they’re really just selfish fuck-ups.

Ruffalo, Robbins and Gad all play guys whose addictions seem to be the only remarkable thing about them. Sadly, their characters are all so poorly conceived, you may never take their addictions seriously to begin with. In fact, the most convincingand most sympatheticsex addict in the movie is the boho nympho played by Alecia Moore (aka pop star Pink), who’s only there to unconvincingly be a buddy to Gad’s sweaty-ass degenerate.

As much as it wants to show how keeping it in your pants can be downright debilitating for some, Thanks for Sharing ultimately proves to be an unsatisfying, relentlessly depriving experience.

This article appeared in print with the headline “The beasts within.”