Just not funny

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Neil Mark Ruffalo, left, and Gwyneth Paltrow in a scene from "Thanks For Sharing." (AP Photo/Roadside Attractions, Anne Joyce)

Film can’t lighten leaden story about sex addiction

Sex is the topic up for discussion in Thanks for Sharing, a surprisingly flat new dramatic comedy directed and co-written by Stuart Blumberg. In the meandering work, a trio of addicts forge a bond and then play it for tepid laughs, overwrought pathos and treacly sentiment.

Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Josh Gad play Adam, Mike and Neil, three men who have had trouble curbing their urges. At first glance, and indeed for the first half of the film, Blumberg attempts to play this dilemma mostly for laughs and with only hints of the inevitable coming conflicts. Laughs rarely come, however, leaving a narrative that seems to wander around not sure where to land.

Blumberg evidently wants the audience to eventually take the trio, and sexual addiction, seriously while he mixes in his sporadic comedy along with trite, cliche-ridden dialogue. Mixing the various elements might have worked if the attempts at humor were not so lame and the attempts at honest introspection so clumsy and, at times, maudlin.

Seen at first, Adam (Ruffalo) has not had sex of any kind in the five years since his acceptance of his addiction sent him to a 12-step support group. There, his sponsor, Mike (Robbins), a recovering alcoholic, has served as his counselor and friend. Neil (Gad) comes along later when he has been fired from his job and has had sexual harassment charges filed against him.

From there, Blumberg fails to explore his characters in these diluted character studies. We learn that Adam used to bed every woman he met, that Mike’s son left the house after becoming a drug user, and that Neil’s mother (Carol Kane) smothers him.

But this is all shorthand that never reveals the full stories or the complicated truths behind any of the three. Worse, none of the three ever seem worth knowing further.

Gwenyth Paltrow plays the transparent role of Phoebe, the obligatory love interest who comes along to tempt Adam and then to change him into a better man.

Unfortunately, like much of the film, Phoebe is played for cheap laughs, resulting in little insight or revelation.

MOVIE RATING

Thanks for Sharing

Rated R, 112 minutes.

Opens Friday at the Angelika Plano.


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