Gwyneth Paltrow pretty much ruins addiction drama

With a subject as specific as sex addiction, comparisons to 2011’s “Shame” are inevitable. That dark drama was a deep-probe character study, intensely focused on a man consumed by his cravings.

By contrast, “Thanks for Sharing” is an ensemble piece juggling humor with sober observation of three men intent on overcoming their dependence on the pleasures of the flesh.

Making a technically polished directing debut, screenwriter Stuart Blumberg (“The Kids Are All Right”) has in essence crafted the date-night version of the sexaholic’s confessional.

While it doesn’t crawl under the skin the way “Shame” did, this serio-comedy, with its name cast, offers a glossy portrait of New York as a playground of visual stimuli. Captured in crisp advertising imagery and singing colors by cinematographer Yaron Orbach, it’s a metropolitan catwalk, a promo-reel for romance and desire.

All of that keeps “Thanks for Sharing” watchable and mildly entertaining, if overlong.

What stops the film from being more satisfying, however, is a problem with the way the central character’s arc takes shape, and a key piece of miscasting. Bashing Gwyneth Paltrow has become a tired, easy sport that anyone can play. But her preening performance as Phoebe in an inconsistently drawn role here is a major intrusion.

A smart, soulful environmental consultant celebrating five years in recovery, Marc Ruffalo’s Adam is carefully set up to give the film a core of emotional integrity.

When his sponsor, Mike (Tim Robbins), insists it’s time for him to bite the bullet and start dating again, he conveniently meets Paltrow’s Phoebe at a foodie bug-tasting evening.

Ruffalo gives a typically sensitive performance, both in his monastic adherence to the vigilant rules of sobriety and his wounded admission of defeat. But it’s hard to remain invested in whether or not Adam and Phoebe work things out. He deserves better.

The film has more nuance and credibility in its secondary strands.

One concerns the progress of Neil (Josh Gad), a chubby young ER medic doing court-ordered SAA time for nonconsensual frottage.

Help comes, paradoxically, from Dede (Alecia Moore, better known as pop-punkster Pink), a tattooed tough girl. Moore proves a capable actor and a relaxed, enormously likable screen presence.

“Thanks for Sharing” (2 stars)

A story of addictions, with Mark Ruffalo giving a sensitive portrayal and Gwyneth Paltrow miscast as his love interest. Pop singer Pink capably plays a likeable tough girl.

Rated: R for language, sexual content.

Showing: Alderwood, Meridian, Thornton Place.

More in Life

Wilderness boost: Why hiking does wonders for your mind and body

There is no denying how beneficial a walk through the woods can be for your overall health.

Strasbourg: The bicultural crossroads of Europe

Fascinating history makes it one of the continent’s most intriguing cities.

The Subaru Crosstrek compact SUV is reborn for 2018

Now built on Subaru’s global platform, the 2018 Crosstrek has superior ride, handling and comfort.

How to make the most of your small garden space

Containers, smart design and savvy plant choices are the key to a small garden with big impact.

Native Plant Appreciation Week is about more than smelling roses

Events set for April 22-28 celebrate the importance of Washington’s indigenous flora.

Tiffany’s many creations fetch top dollar on antique market

His lamps and more are highly prized today, but they fell out of favor shortly after his death.

Ultimate list: Here are the top 15 beers of Snohomish County

These are the 15 the most interesting, iconic and best tasting craft beers in the county.

‘Kodachrome’ reminds that Ed Harris can make standard roles transcendent

The famed actor’s usual excellence makes this pro-forma road trip drama worth watching.

Great Plant Pick: Buxus sempervirens, common boxwood

It’s an elegant shrub that has been used in gardens for centuries.

Most Read