Blu Tuesday: Thanks for Sharing and Badges of Fury

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“Thanks for Sharing”

WHAT: The film follows the intersecting lives of three men in various stages of sex addiction recovery, including eco-friendly businessman Adam (Mark Ruffalo), his dedicated sponsor Mike (Tim Robbins) and unmotivated newcomer Neil (Josh Gad).

WHY: Sex addiction is a tricky topic, which is probably why so few movies have been made on the subject. But whereas 2011’s “Shame” took a darker look at the effects of sex addiction, writer/director Stuart Blumberg’s “Thanks for Sharing” is more interested in the recovery phase. As you might expect from a film with that title, and written by the same guy behind the dialogue-heavy “The Kids Are All Right,” this is a very talky movie that relies more than usual on its actors to drive the story. Luckily, Blumberg’s directorial debut is buoyed by solid performances from top to bottom (including good work from Mark Ruffalo and Patrick Fugit), even if it’s more concerned with drilling the recovery program’s philosophies into your head like some self-help video than developing its character. It deserves credit for its stark honesty, however, refusing to pull any punches or let its characters off the hook too easily, and that goes a long way in not only creating a realistic story, but one that’s more enjoyable than its subject matter might suggest.

EXTRAS: In addition to an audio commentary by writer/director Stuart Blumberg and co-writer Matt Winston, the Blu-ray includes a making-of featurette, some deleted/extended scenes and a gag reel.


“Badges of Fury”

WHAT: Following a series of related murders, Hong Kong detectives Wang Bu Er (Zhang Wen) and Huang Fei Hong (Jet Li) are assigned to the case. When they learn that all of the victims previously dated budding actress Liu Jin Shui (Shishi Liu), Bu Er agrees to go undercover as her new boyfriend to reveal the identity of the killer.

WHY: With the exception of the “Expendables” films, Jet Li hasn’t appeared in a Hollywood production since 2008, instead choosing to focus on making movies in his homeland of China. But while fans were excited at the prospect of what Li’s return would mean for the Hong Kong film industry, no one could have imagined that it would result in a movie as shockingly bad as “Badges of Fury.” Perfectly described as a “cruel trick” by fellow critic Rob Hunter, the film isn’t the gritty crime thriller that its promotional materials would lead you to believe, but rather an incredibly goofy (think “Naked Gun”) action comedy filled to the brim with childish slapstick humor. To make matters worse, the veteran action star is a supporting character at best, missing for large stretches of the movie, despite the fact that he’s proudly displayed as its star. That wouldn’t be so bad if the film was any good, but it’s unbearable to watch, dragged down by spotty acting, terrible CGI and cartoony sound effects. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves, but no one more than Li.

EXTRAS: There’s a making-of featurette and additional behind the scenes footage.



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Movie Review: “Thanks for Sharing”

Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad, Gwyneth Paltrow, Patrick Fugit, Alecia Moore, Joely Richardson
Stuart Blumberg

Sex addiction is a tricky topic – some believe that it’s a genuine disease that deserves to be treated on the same level as drugs and alcohol, while others think it’s a convenient excuse for a certain type of behavior – which is probably why so few movies have been made on the subject. But whereas 2011’s “Shame” took a darker look at the effects of sex addiction, writer/director Stuart Blumberg’s “Thanks for Sharing” is more interested in the recovery phase. As a result, it’s bound to garner much less attention than the NC-17 rated Steve McQueen drama, and rightfully so, because this is pretty standard indie fare that’s only elevated by its ensemble cast.

The film follows the intersecting lives of three men in various stages of recovery. Eco-friendly businessman Adam (Mark Ruffalo) has been sober for five years, and when he finally jumps back into the dating pool at the behest of his sponsor Mike (Tim Robbins), he meets the beautiful Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), who has obvious concerns about his “addiction.” Mike, meanwhile, is a 12-step guru who trusts so much in the program that he doesn’t believe his drug addict son Danny (Patrick Fugit) – who suddenly returns home one night after a years-long absence – could possibly get clean on his own. And lastly, there’s Neil (Josh Gad), a schlubby doctor who’s been court ordered to attend sex addiction meetings and assigned Adam as his sponsor. Neil is in denial about the whole thing, but when he gets fired from his job for secretly filming up his boss’ skirt, he decides to take the program more seriously with the help of a fellow sex addict named Dede (Alecia Moore, aka Pink).

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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to September


Now that summer is officially over, moviegoers are bound to see a greater variety of films arriving in theaters beyond the usual barrage of action flicks and comedies. Though the September release slate isn’t as promising as it’s been in past years, there are a few potential Oscar nominees among the pack, as well as new movies from A-list stars like Robert De Niro, Hugh Jackman and Gwyneth Paltrow.


Who: Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine and Karl Urban
What: Left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, Riddick teams up with a new breed of mercenary against an alien race of predators.
When: September 6th
Why: Though “Pitch Black” was a cool sci-fi thriller that introduced the world to Vin Diesel, director David Twothy’s 2004 follow-up, “The Chronicles of Riddick,” failed to convince audiences that the character warranted additional adventures. That hasn’t stopped Diesel from moving forward with a third installment anyway, and after the blockbuster success of the last two “Fast and Furious” movies, Universal was hardly in a position to say no. But whereas the sequel bit off more than it could chew with its grand space battles and expansive mythology, especially after the more character-based first film, “Riddick” seems to fall somewhere in the middle, and it’s that balance that could help transform the series into the franchise Diesel always envisioned.


Who: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Leigh Whannell and Lin Shaye
What: The haunted Lambert family seeks to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world.
When: September 13th
Why: James Wan may be the reigning king of horror, but I’m not exactly sure what to think about the sequel to his 2010 sleeper hit. That movie ended with Patrick Wilson’s character supposedly becoming possessed by the demon that haunted him as a child, and yet “Chapter Two” gives the impression that Wilson is now leading a happy life with his family. So what happened between the two films? And will it even be addressed in the sequel? That seems to be one of the biggest questions leading into the movie, and unless Wan and writing partner Leigh Whannell have come up with a doozy of an explanation, prepare to be disappointed.


Who: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones and Diane Agron
What: A notorious mafia family is relocated to France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard.
When: September 13th
Why: It’s been awhile since Luc Besson last directed an action film (though he’s kept busy over the years as a writer/producer on the “Transporter” and “Taken” franchises), and he couldn’t have picked a better movie for his return to the genre than “The Family.” Besson has never had trouble attracting big names to his films, but that doesn’t make the involvement of Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer (both returning to their mob roots here) any less exciting. Though the veteran actors have been in films together before (2007’s “Stardust” and 2011’s “New Year’s Eve”), this marks the first time that they’ll actually share the screen, and that alone gives me hope that “The Family” will be just as much fun as it sounds.

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