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Help yourself 

Lindsay Rainingbird offers would-be millionaires ready made movie specs from five self-help books

Chris Rock and Thomas Lennon make dad jokes, to be sure
  • Chris Rock and Thomas Lennon make dad jokes, to be sure

Adapting a self-help book for the big screen is fantastically easy, there's no worries about being true to the story or upsetting fans, all you need is to keep the title and vomit out the rest. In the last month, Think Like a Man and What to Expect When You're Expecting have opened; movies based more on bags of money than the books. If the film industry insists on following this trend then we want to cash in.

Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood (1985): An obsessive sociopath (Kristen Wiig) is committed after "accidentally" setting fire to her ex-boyfriend's new fiance. There, she forms an inappropriate relationship with her psychiatrist (Patton Oswalt) who is pioneering a new therapy. He cures her and she realizes she doesn't in fact love "too much" but rather has a brain chemistry imbalance that needed the deft touch of a learned man. After some ethical confusion toward the end, love prevails.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle (2005): Twenty-seven b-list celebrities, Hilary Swank, a TV actress trying to break into film and one former child actor star in this collaborative tale about how an author's book goes viral after his death and he must haunt everybody who takes his advice to heart. Several people fall in love, one dies, one gets a cat, one becomes closer to an estranged parent and one woman gets ahead in her career only to realize that marriage is what she really wants. Morgan Freeman narrates.

Skinny Bitch: A No-Nonsense, Tough-Love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous! by Rory Freedman, Kim Barnouin (2005): A group of friends is turned upside down when they meet a glamourous mean girl, LA (Rachel McAdams). One by one they succumb to her subtle manipulations, getting makeovers and developing eating disorders, until one of them, Agnus (Greta Gerwig) falls into a love-triangle with her. Faced with losing the love of her life she discovers LA is really a vampire that maintains her beauty by feeding off the insecurities of other women. Agnus must muster up the courage to face her nemesis to save her friends and her heart. Spoiler alert: she does.

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (2006): A man (Paul Rudd) finds a copy of the book at a used bookstore in the bargain bin, he stays up all night reading it and learning "the secret"---that you attract everything that happens to you through positive/negative thought. Here, the movie splits screens (re: Sliding Doors) detailing the hijinks that would ensue from each type of thinking. He meets a girl, loses her and gets her back but only after burning the book (and its voodoo magic) and starting his day again.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (2009): A smug rich woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) living what appears to be an extremely charmed life decides to devote a year to being "happier"; each month gets the themed montage treatment, revealing that her efforts alienate the people around her. After some initial bumbling she stumbles onto the golden rule of doing good for others, makes amends and goes back to her life with self-congratulatory pats on the back, no real trials or tragedies necessary. The audience groans in unison and throws popcorn at the screen. The movie is nominated for an Oscar.

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