Tim Robbins plays Mike, who has been an alcoholic and devotes a great deal of his time and energy to mentoring others, so obsessively that it is damaging his family.
Mark Ruffalo plays Adam, who, while successful in his career, cannot cope with a sex addiction. He, in turn, mentors Neil (Josh Gad) a medical doctor who dare not ride the subway, for fear of acting inappropriately with young women.
Neil joins a group which includes DeDe (played by Pink) and each helps the others as they face down their demons. Adam meets and falls in love with Phoebe (Gyneth Paltrow), and does not share with her that he has a problem….
The scripting of this film allows the actors to show warmth and insight, and while there are very funny moments, the characters' very real problems are not trivialised by "nudge-nudge, wink wink" humour.
While the phrase "thanks for sharing" is often a shallow reaction, on a level with "have a good day", in this film it has meaning, as damaged, imperfect people find some level of healing by sharing their flaws, and reaching out to share empathy and encouragement with other damaged imperfect people.
One scene which epitomises this theme is the one where, in order to help DeDe in an emergency, Neil forces himself to ride the subway, and to fight his obsessions. On one level it is comedic slapstick, on another it is courageous touching loyalty.
Gyneth Paltrow is superb – looking every inch the fitness fanatic, and totally convincing as the woman who wants to love Neil, but has been damaged by her earlier relationship with an alcoholic.
Robbins manages to give us a searing combination of idealist, obsessive, carer and blindly authoritarian father in danger of ruining his own family while trying to save the world. His screen wife (Joely Richardson) remains serene and loving, while well aware of the dynamics at work in her home. Patrick Fugit captures the rebellious yet insightful son, wishing that his father could stop trying to be perfect, admit his flaws, and show some unconditional love.
Mark Ruffalo's Adam is still fragile after five years "sober". His journey in and out of addition, his struggles with fear and self-loathing, and his failures and redemption through the mutual love between himself and Paltrow's Phoebe are at the heart of this film.
In an hour and a half you cannot expect a nuanced description of an illness, and yet "Thanks for Sharing" manages to help give us some insight into the struggles of others, while celebrating sharing, and caring, and laughter.