Sunday, September 29, 2013

Thanks for Sharing (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Thanks for Sharing

Stuart Blumberg's (writer of The Kids Are All Right) debut feature focuses on sex addiction. Despite a few melodramatic touches, it is a honest and engaging character study, mostly due to the acting of Josh Gad and Mark Ruffalo.

To start with Ruffalo plays Adam, an extremely anxious but well meaning consultant with GQ handsomeness. You wouldn't know he's an addict as he looks like your kid's history teacher but little by little, Adam has a monkey on his back. Have no fear however,you will pull for him right away. Adam has a curious mixture of warmth and apprehension that escalates slowly into terror. Ruffalo is riveting in this outing, having something of Lon Chaney, Jr. right before he is transformed by the full moon.

Adam is joined with several vignettes  featuring Josh Gad as Neil, a pale and plump,carbohydrate-fetishizing doctor who is addicted to surreptitiously rubbing himself on anonymous ladies along with offensive voyeurism. Neil is not a bad guy, sometimes he is genuinely funny, but he is tragically trapped (at first) like most every other character here. Although Neil might seem to some to be a version of Newman from "Seinfeld", just a tad, he is no cartoon. This is a man eaten up by fears and expectations by his stifling mother (Carol Kane) and he shows his very real emotional disability as well as his compassion for others.

Thrown into this chemical and messy mix is Tim Robbins as Mike, who is clearly the leader of the pack, for his supposed Guru-like longevity. While it does feel like the character of Mike is generic and suffering with dramatic low T, with his encouragement and empathy always at the ready, not to mention his multiple wincing and downbeat responses, Robbins handles this standard role well as an overbearing voice of reason.

The real thrill of "Thanks for Sharing" is its mostly unsentimental look into the world of an addict. Though this film is less punchy and considerably more upbeat than Steve McQueen's "Shame", its apparently lightness in tone is deceptive. By mimicking the buoyancy and farce of a romantic comedy, danger and peril commences upon what was thought to be madcap and we are hooked.

Gwyneth Paltrow does a good turn as Mark Ruffalo's hopeful new beginning along with Alecia Moore (aka the pop star Pink) who gives some irreverent companionship to Neil's cloistered, wallflower existence.

Despite some Tv-squared melodrama by the end of the film involving an oft portrayed showdown between a drifting son (Patrick Fugit) and the self righteous Mike, the whole of "Thanks for Sharing" is disarming and funny with some pointed lines guaranteed to make you draw back with tension as well as chuckle.

Write Ian at

No comments: