Based on an Advice Book

"Anyone who reads advice books about romance has one problem to begin with: bad taste in literature."

Hollywood knows how to make commercially successful movies out of unpromising source material: Pragmatic Adaptation. Sometimes their source material is not only non-fiction but isn't even a narrative. That doesn't seem to deter Hollywood from making romantic comedies out of advice books. Normally the plot will center on a character following, overtly or otherwise, the advice in the book, but there are In Name Only exceptions, such as Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex note .


  • Woody Allen's movie of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) is an unusual example in that it's a series of seven disconnected sketches. Even so, they have almost nothing to do with the book.
  • Mean Girls is based on Queen Bees & Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman, a guide for parents of adolescent girls.
  • The 1960 comedy School For Scoundrels (and by extension the 2006 remake) was based on Stephen Potter's satirical advice book The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship: The Art of Winning Games Without Actually Cheating and its sequels Lifemanship and One-Upmanship.
  • On the day he died, John Belushi signed on to be in the film adaptation of The Joy Of Sex. He was high on cocaine at the time.
  • 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter. Although that's not really an advice book; it's a comedy book, parts of which parody advice books.
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  • Sex And The Single Girl was named after the book by Helen Gurley Brown and starred Natalie Wood as a heavily fictionalized version of Brown.
  • It, a 1927 romantic comedy starring Clara Bow which spawned the term "It Girl", was based on Elinor Glyn's advice guide about how to have great sex appeal.
  • Both The Fast and the Furious and Live Free or Die Hard were based on magazine articles, as was Saturday Night Fever.
  • He's Just Not That Into You was based on an advice book based on a stand-up comedy bit
  • For a video game example, the Brain Age games are Minigame Games based on Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain, by Dr. Ryuta Kawashima.
  • Parodied in Telltale's Sam & Max: Freelance Police games, where almost every episode is claimed to be based on some sort of pamphlet that has nothing to do with the actual plot. This is a running gag from the original comics as well.
  • The 2007 German movie Warum Männer nicht zuhören und Frauen schlecht einparken is based upon an advice book of the same name, a bestseller in Germany at that time. (It was written by Australians, so it has an original English title: Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps.)
  • Yes-Man, sort of: the book it was based on is a memoir, but a sort of self-help memoir.
  • Anime example: Health and Physical Education for 30-Year-Olds, a sex-and-dating guide targeted at lonely Otaku in their '30s.
  • The film Think Like A Man is based on Steve Harvey's relationship advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.
  • What to Expect When You're Expecting is based on the perennial favourite pregnancy advice book and features an All-Star Cast.
  • Inverted by the movie The Darwin Awards, a comedy about a profiler-turned-insurance-investigator obsessed with the cockamamie deaths chronicled on the Darwin Awards website. The inversion is that the Darwin Awards are sort of an unadvice litany of things no one with a brain ought to do.
    • Also inverted in that all the deaths featured in the movie are urban legends that the site features for comedic value only, not legitimate stories submitted to the site - probably to avoid problems from the victim's estates.
  • Brazilian movie Até que a Sorte nos Separe ("Til Luck Do Us Part") is based upon financial advice book Casais Inteligentes Enriquecem Juntos ("smart couples get rich together" - the plot of the movie goes the other way, with a couple who won the lottery losing the prize after 15 years of Conspicuous Consumption).
  • S. J. Perelman and Ogden Nash worked on an unproduced screenplay based on Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People.
  • A Guide for the Married Man was developed simultaneously as an advice book and a movie, both written by Frank Tarloff. The movie is basically a Framing Device linking a series of vignettes.