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Thanks for Sharing
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thanks for Sharing is an ensemble dramedy that deals with some serious issues, particularly addiction to drugs, alcohol, and -- especially -- sex. There's frank, open discussion about things characters have done to satiate their cravings, and a few scenes show one character performing criminal acts to feed his addiction, including surreptitiously filming his supervisor up her skirt and rubbing up against a fellow subway passenger. Characters swear often ("f--k," "s--t," and more), and there are a few sex scenes, including a montage of a couple in various positions (no genitals are shown) and implied masturbation.
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What's the story?
Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is a recovering sex addict who's five years sober: no encounters, no masturbation, no porn, despite the fact that even a walk down the streets of New York City can be a test of his willpower. But it has also been five years without a relationship, and his sponsor, Mike (Tim Robbins) -- who's been sober even longer, and not just from sex addiction but also from alcohol -- thinks it's time to test the waters. At a dinner party, Adam meets breast cancer survivor Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), who might just be the one -- but intimacy between them threatens to unleash Adam's demons. Plus, she may be struggling with issues of her own. Meanwhile, Adam's sponsee, Neil (Josh Gad), a doctor who's good at his job but terrible about objectifying women (to the point that he turns to criminal acts to satisfy his dysfunctional yearnings) isn't doing the work. Can fellow Sexaholics Anonymous attendee Dede (Alecia Moore, aka the rocker Pink) be just the person to show him that recovery is the way?
Is it any good?
The thing about movies about addiction and recovery is that, yes, you can infuse the pathos with humor; it's been done well before, but THANK YOU FOR SHARING doesn't hit the bar. While it has much to recommend it -- including the chance to see Pink do the finest acting job in a cast peppered with more experienced thespians -- there's really nothing charming about the criminality of some sex addicts. Gad takes on the difficult role of Neil, a doctor who's in the Sexaholics Anonymous program because it's mandated by a court but is shown continuing to indulge his criminal urges (upskirting, for one). But the movie depicts him as still redeemable -- as well as funny and charming enough to become the story's underdog hero. The tonal misfire grates. As do the missed opportunities, including the unexplored dysfunction of Paltrow's character -- at one point, a character makes a wise point about partners examining what they bring to a table, but the subject matter is dropped. Too heavy, perhaps, for a movie striving for laughs?
Robbins' storyline with his son (played to a crackling brilliance by Patrick Fugit) fares a little better, but Fugit is wasted here. So much more could have been said and done had the movie spent more time with him and Adam ... instead of trying to make us laugh and like Neil, maybe. That said, Ruffalo does make Adam the heart of the movie. He's wound so tight and is so committed to doing no wrong that when he's unable to hold his center, we can't help but weep for him a little bit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the toll that addiction, in all its forms, takes on people. Where in the storyline is this made very clear? Is it an accurate depiction?
What is Thanks for Sharing saying about the journey of an addict after he or she quits? How can family help (or hurt)?
How does the movie depict sex? How do the different characters view it -- and its role in a relationship?
Talk to teens about how the movie shows that ads and signage are designed to sell using sex as the message. Is this true? How can you filter all that?