How do you turn a dark, heavy, nihilistic drama into a perky romantic comedy? It's all about casting. Take Shame, for example — the critically acclaimed NC-17 picture starring Michael Fassbender as a successful New York businessman suffering from a tremendously painful addiction to sex. Although the very idea of the disease lends itself to a painstaking and authentic portrayal, Hollywood is hardly above taking a lighter approach: as such, we have Thanks for Sharing, our very own sex addiction romantic comedy. Naturally, we'll want to stock this feature with as much theatrical integrity as Shame was able to boast, but Fassy is far too daunting a presence for the rom-com genre. So call in someone shorter, friendlier, fuzzier, but still packing an edge (and that undefinable debonair). We need Mark Ruffalo.
Ruffalo headlines what should be more accurately described as a dramedy but feels like freakin' Pixar in comparison to Shame in a new trailer. His sex addict character begins a new romantic relationship with fellow Avengers star Gwyneth Paltrow (to Shame's Nicole Beharie), attending Tim Robbins' support group meetings alongside Josh Gad (to Shame's James Badge Dale) and — holy s**t, it's Pink! (to Shame's Carrie Mulligan). Where Shame opted for long, ominous silences and a deep excavation of the human soul, Thanks for Sharing seems to opt for pithy, smarmy dialogue, and bubbly interactions. But hey, we need it all. Fassbenders and Ruffalos alike make this world the place it is.
Thanks for Sharing comes out Sept. 20.