Written by Christian James Haight
Unlike what many would come to believe, “Paper Towns” is not at all a romance movie. It’s a story about a group of friends who are only weeks away from their high school graduation and are trying to get the most out of it before they leave for different schools in the fall. Coming-of-age stories can be tough to get right, often movies within the genre will try too hard to be inspirational. “Paper Towns” director Jake Schreier knew what he was doing and kept the movie from becoming overly cheesy.
Based on the book Paper Towns, written by John Green, the film takes just the right amount of comedy, romance and high school lifestyle to create a movie that an audience can relate to. Nat Wolf plays Quentin, a young kid who has been hopelessly in love with his next door neighbor, Margo, played by Cara Delevingne, throughout all of high school. Though as they became involved with different circles, they were never given the chance to hang out. Until one night when Margo comes to Quentin to help her plot revenge on her ex-boyfriend. They have an amazing night together full of adventures that Quentin only dreamed of, and he only hopes that this will spark the beginning to their beautiful relationship.
Until he wakes up to find that she’s ran away from home, leaving behind clues for him to find that could possibly lead to where she ran off to. As Quentin follows the clues, his two best friends, Ben, played by Austin Abrams, and Radar, played by Justice Smith, stand by his side and help try to find her. Sending the three of them, and a few others, on an exciting road trip to find Margo where Quentin will finally tell her how he feels.
The best part of “Paper Towns” is the chemistry between not only Quentin and Margo but between Quentin, Ben and Radar. It’s easy to believe that these three have been friends with each other through thick and thin. It’s hard for such unexperienced actors to create a bond with one another that is very believable on-screen, so it won’t be surprising at all when these actors start showing up in more and more movies. Schreier was also very clever with the comedy used in the movie, it was sly enough that the audience won’t see it coming. Whether it was because of how awkward Quentin and his friends are or because of something else, the movie has multiple laugh out loud moments that weren’t spoiled by the trailers. Which is definitely something that most movies can’t help but include in the trailers.
Wolf does an excellent job in this movie, creating a character that is very easy to like. It’s surprising that even with the few movies he has done, his career hasn’t already taken off. Hopefully after “Paper Towns” he’ll begin to play more important roles in more important movies. Delevingne also does a good job in the movie, aside from the few scenes that her English accent came out. The biggest problem with her character is that the audience didn’t get enough of her. Through Quentin’s narrations, Margo is raised onto a very high pedestal as a miraculous miracle that came into his life as a kid, but the audience didn’t really get a clear understanding of why he felt that way. It almost seemed as if he only loved her because he was never able to get over his neighborhood crush, which completely takes away from the feelings he felt for her.
Obviously, with Schreier following the book, it would’ve been hard to place Margo into the movie more, because the entire plot focuses on Quentin trying to find her. That still doesn’t make up for the fact that what the audience sees in Margo is a young girl who refuses to grow up. While she may be spontaneous, she doesn’t take other people into consideration when making any drastic decision in her life, which is a big fault in her character and will only keep the audience from falling in love with her the way Quentin did.
It’s a coming-of-age story, which typically means it will be full of cheesy moments and unrealistic occurrences. While Schreier did a good job with keeping the cheesy moments to a minimum, the problem is that in today’s world realism is one of the key ingredients to making any live-action movie. The idea of five high school seniors driving across country without any sort of planning or parental permission is absurd. Quentin having a phone call with his mom during the trip and telling her everything is okay and not to worry does not cut it, all of those kids should have been grounded as soon as they got home and I can assure you they were not. Its small scenes such as these that can really bring a movie down, even if it is enjoyable, it still needs that realistic hone in order to completely satisfy the audience.
The movie has its faults, but it concludes in the best way possible. Quentin’s character really developed throughout the movie, while in the beginning he tended to be more timid, at the end he had an open mind and wasn’t afraid to try something new. He comes to find what’s important in life, and what feeds his motivations, which is exactly what a coming-of-age movie should do. This film will inspire you and make you want to go on an adventure with the people you care most about. Even with its flaws, in the end “Paper Towns” is a movie that can be enjoyed by everyone.
- Director: Jake Schreier
- Writers: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, John Green
- Actors: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Jaz Sinclair
- Genre: Drama, Romance
- Run Time: 1 hour 46 minutes
Pros: Great chemistry throughout the entire cast; funny.
Cons: A little too unrealistic at points; didn’t get to know Margo enough.
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