Watchable sexual addiction — but Paltrow is a turn-off


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Mich-ael Douglas’s admission to sexual addiction and subsequent spell in rehab was not treated all that sympathetically by my tabloid colleagues. The newsroom consensus was that he had been caught in flagrante one too many times and a clinical explanation would resurrect his reputation.
But for those who doubted Douglas and his fellow sufferers, first time director Stuart Blumberg’s film makes a convincing case. Guiding us to better understanding is Adam, a handsome and very snazzy environmental consultant played by Mark Ruffalo, who starred in the brilliant Oscar nominated The Kids Are Alright, which Blumberg wrote. Adam hasn’t had a sexual encounter or relationship of any kind for five years thanks to “the 12-step programme” and help from his sponsor Mike (Tim Robbins) who is better at helping other SA sufferers than dealing with his own son’s problems.
There are other sufferers, too, notably Neil (Josh Gad) a doctor who can’t travel on the subway for fear of molesting a fellow female traveller and Dede — a fine performance by pop star Pink — who knows only one way to connect with men. Doubters will find it too easy to laugh at what is essentially an unusual romantic comedy — and indeed there are moments we are meant to giggle during Neil’s sweaty slapstick. But when it comes to Adam, we are asked to dig a little deeper emotionally and I would be able to if it were not for the fact that he wants to jump off the sex bandwagon with Gwyneth Paltrow.
Paltrow plays Phoebe, a cancer survivor who is obsessed with exercise and healthy eating. She also dated an alcoholic and thus has no time for addicts, which is not great news for Adam. Though the actress may well have been in on the joke that sends up her real life role as a self-appointed guru, it is almost impossible not to find her annoying. Worse still, there is absolutely no sexual chemistry between her and Ruffalo, even when Paltrow is in suspenders. But this is a very watchable film thanks to Ruffalo and Robbins and panty-clad Paltrow is just part of the package.

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