The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
Thought and care obviously went into the writing of "Thanks for Sharing," the first film directed by "The Kids Are All Right" co-writer Stuart Blumberg. It's easy to imagine long, thoughtful discussions between Blumberg and his own co-writer Matt Winston about the nature of addiction and how it would relate to each of the characters in the movie. The tone of "Thanks for Sharing" is somewhat similar to the tone of "The Kids Are All Right": earnest, modestly exploratory, definitely smart, but extremely judgmental toward some of its people.
"Thanks for Sharing" opens with Adam (Mark Ruffalo) kneeling by his well-appointed bed in his underwear. It quickly becomes apparent that he is praying, and his religion, it turns out, is of the twelve-step recovery community variety. When Adam walks the streets of Manhattan, he keeps getting bombarded by sexy ads and sexy women strutting past him, and from his point of view this is all temptation to fall off the wagon.
Adam considers himself a sex addict. Following the rules of his guru Mike (Tim Robbins), Adam has not had sex with anyone and has not even masturbated in five years. In Mike's program, you are only supposed to have sex when you have worked through your sexual addiction issues, and when you have done so, you can only have sex when you are in a committed relationship. This all sounds harsh, even grotesquely puritanical, but Blumberg treats Mike's worldview with patient yet uneasy seriousness.
The first half of "Thanks for Sharing" plays out in a netherworld that isn't quite comedic but isn't quite serious enough, as if Blumberg is treating his own movie as a patient who might have a relapse at any minute. The second half of the film lays on some fairly heavy dramatic scenes involving physical violence and emotional upsets, all carefully prepared for in the writing and in the acting, and you can admire the skill that has gone into the shaping of these scenes while also rejecting their ultimate aim.