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Based on an Advice Book

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"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 comedy School For Scoundrels 1960 (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.
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  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a parody of such books.
  • 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 (2001) and Live Free or Die Hard were based on magazine articles, as was Saturday Night Fever. That last was based on Nik Cohn's article "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night", which he later admitted was a complete fabrication.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • For a music example, Pat Boone published an advice book called 'Twixt Twelve and Twenty in 1958, whose title was recycled for a song of his a year later.
  • The video game series Soldier of Fortune is based on the magazine of the same name.
  • The title and namesake Fantastic Beasts (at least in the first film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) are based on J. K. Rowling's book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is a fictional guide with nothing resembling a plot.