Imagine yourself as an old-fashioned movie mogul, operating out of a seemingly endless supply of smoke-filled back rooms. You’re chomping down on your cigar, and trying to break the story for a planned romantic comedy starring that Hulk fellow (Mark Ruffalo) and the crazy blonde who named her kid Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow). You’ve already got the part of the story where the two get together. Now, you need some kind of conflict. They need to have something which threatens to tear them apart, or else where is the drama?
Religious differences? Nah, doesn’t resonate with audiences as much anymore.
What if she gets pregnant and they disagree over what to do? Are you kidding me – this is supposed to be a comedy!
How about their careers, like one has to move across country or something? Nah, that Jason Segal/Emily Blunt picture (Five-Year Engagement) did that last year and failed to break even.
Make one of them a sex addict? I love it, I love it. I see the addict in a support group – like the kind Cheers did with Ted Danson in its latter years – and he can meet some real zany sidekicks there. Get me the overweight kid from Book of Mormon. He’d be a great best friend character!
Of course, films don’t really get made like that anymore. In the case of Thanks for Sharing, The Kids Are Alright screenwriter Stuart Blumberg independently produced and directed from a script he co-wrote with an actor making his writing debut (Matt Winston). Blumberg was a hot name after the success of The Kids Are Alright. So, he was able to leverage that to make his directorial debut with Thanks for Sharing, and carry over Kids star Mark Ruffalo into the cast while adding Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad, Tim Robbins, Carol Kane, and even the pop singer Pink in easily her most extensive acting role to date.
The film focuses on three characters who meet in a sex addiction support group (Ruffalo, Gad, and Pink). It was purchased by Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions at the Toronto Film Festival last September. So, September was a good month for Thanks for Sharing last year. Maybe it will be again this year now that Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions has scheduled a release date of 9/20/2013.
Here is the first trailer:
Doesn’t look bad, although it’s a bit jarring how the trailer starts out as an obvious romantic comedy starring Paltrow and Ruffalo and then rather abruptly shifts focus to admit that in fact this is actually an ensemble comedy with just as much screen time for Gad and Pink. However, sex addiction, sex addiction, sex addiction – why does that sound familiar, other than the fact that I just said it three times? Am I thinking of this?
Nope, that’s not it. I mean, yeah, that is about sex addiction, but it’s mostly known as “the movie where Michael Fassbender showed his giant penis.” I must be thinking of…
That’s the one. It’s due out in late September (despite being initially announced as due in October), and I previously wrote about it when the first trailer came out last month. In Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars are as a modern day Don Juan who has no difficulty courting the ladies but still prefers the version of sex he sees in online pornography to what he can experience with women he can actually touch. In that film, writer/director/star Gordon-Levitt has stated he is trying to make a larger commentary about how popular culture forms our view of romantic relationships, as Scarlett Johansson stars as his love interest who is just as addicted to romantic comedies as he is to online pornography.
If Don Jon is about a man who does not yet realize he has a problem (at least at the beginning of the film) then Thanks for Sharing appears to be about how to control the problem in everyday living and how those around you react to your condition. Of course, if you care for such debates the scientific evidence behind sex addiction and the impact of media upon behavior is rather contradictory. As a result, the forthcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which will be abbreviated as the DSM-V, will not list sex addiction as a recognized disorder. However, what is depicted in the trailer for Thanks for Sharing – a support group with individuals you can reach out to in an emergency – is widely accepted as an efficient method of treatment for those who might be said to suffer from sex addiction.
Blumberg is a writer clearly fascinated by that which separates couples. He’s thrown ‘they’re from different religions’ (Keeping the Faith), ‘one of them is a pornstar’ (The Girl Next Door), and ‘she’s gay but she had an affair with a straight man’ (The Kids Are Alright) in-between his on-screen couples. However, he tends to not simply deploy such developments as mere plot contrivances but instead as meaty subjects to be explored, although The Girl Next Door seems a little more preoccupied with simply re-telling the story of Risky Business with a “she’s a porn star” twist. As such, sex addiction appears just as central to the plot of Thanks for Sharing as religion did to Keeping the Faith. The concern this presents is that Blumberg has consistently struggled to balance the drama with the comedy in his films, and early film festival reviews indicate that’s still the case with Thanks for Sharing.
Thanks for Sharing is due out September 20, and Don Jon is currently scheduled to come out September 27. Once the film studios figure out they might end up cannibalizing one another with such similar films releasing in back-to-back weeks these release dates could change. Everyone was talking about how similar No Strings Attached/Friends with Benefits were in 2011, but those films came out within 6 months of one another – not 1 week!
What do you think? Think it looks good? Doesn’t look good? Let us know in the comments.