The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 27, 2012

Benji Tunnell: More self-help titles should be made into movies

JOPLIN, Mo. — I’ve complained before about the seeming dearth of originality in Hollywood these days. It seems just about everything coming out is a remake, reimagining, sequel or adaptation. The movie industry must be one of the greenest around, what with all of the recycling it does.

But a recent trend makes me think that perhaps the idea well has run completely dry. It seems that the studios have now taken to adapting self-help and relationship books to the big screen, often just borrowing the title and little else.

We had “He’s Just Not That into You,” followed by “Think Like a Man” and the upcoming “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” When someone greenlights a movie adaptation of a pregnancy manual, I think it’s just time to give up.

But I’m nothing if not an opportunist, and if this is going to be the next big trend, then I want to grab my little piece of the pie. So I propose the following book conversions, complete with a short synopsis for those extra lazy screenwriters or studio execs:

  • “Who Moved My Cheese?” Tammy and Joe meet cute at an exterminator’s convention and all seems well. Then Tammy, a strict traditionalist, learns that Joe and his modern poisons are moving into her territory.

    This triggers an intense feud/passionate romance, culminating in a showdown between the two after Joe sabotages Tammy’s biggest account by removing all of the cheese from her mousetraps.
  • “What Color is Your Parachute?” It is the day of the World Championships of Synchronized Colorblind Parachuting, and top seed The Grays are preparing for their final jump when they receive an urgent message that the green parachutes are defective and should not be used under any circumstances.

    Panicking as the countdown begins, they must make the decision whether to risk their lives and jump or forfeit the championship as they frantically ask each other “What color is your parachute?”
  • ¥ “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” The guys of Mars, Texas, are fed up. Day after day, they find themselves underappreciated and taken for granted by the female population of their town.

    The ladies of Venus, Pa., find themselves in the same predicament, as the men of the city lay about watching football and ignoring the lawn. An Internet campaign unites the two, but both are disappointed to find that, no matter how much they try, they can’t seem to figure the opposite sex out, and each side slinks back to the futility of their former lives.
  • “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” James is a down on his luck jazz musician. Seems that his music lacks something, but he just can’t figure out what.

    One day, while walking a strange street, he enters an unmarked shop, seemingly compelled by unseen forces. There a mysterious shop keep introduces him to chicken soup with magical powers. After one bowl, James finally finds what he has been missing: Soul.

    Unfortunately, the soup also causes violent anal leakage and a powerful bout of flatulence, so he is unable to exhibit his newfound skills outside of his bathroom, which limits his audience.

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