John Green is an author who had better keep writing books because Hollywood currently loves adapting them. The second of his books to be brought to life on the big screen is “Paper Towns”.
Quentin or ‘Q’ (Nat Wolff) is an average, well-behaved teenager who is about to graduate high school. Years ago, he had a strong friendship with the cute girl across the street, Margo (Cara Delevingne). He had a crush on her, but they grew apart and drifted into different social circles. She was more of the wild child and he hung out with fellow nerds.
Out of nowhere one night, Margo climbs into Q’s window and asks for his help in a night of pranks against those who have wronged her. He eventually agrees and helps carry out her plan. They seem to reconnect and his feelings for her are re-ignited. She isn’t at school the next day, or the day after or the day after. It seems she has run away.
Q takes it upon himself to find her, wherever she is. Using clues she has left behind, he enlists the help of his friends Radar (Justice Smith) and Ben (Austin Abrams) and one of Margo’s friends, Lacey (Halston Sage). Their leads offer hope that she is still alive but where is she?
Comparing this to “The Fault In Our Stars” is tough because while it shares an author, the focus/intention seems to be far different. “…Fault…” is meant to tug on your heartstrings while this is more of a road movie/mild mystery. Generally speaking, the tone is much, much lighter. The romantic elements are a little tough to be invested in because Margo is present for the start of the film and then just…gone. We get that Q cares for her and has been pining for her all of these years, but it is easier to be invested in the bond between the characters on screen. Unlike the book, the thought of her being dead isn’t one that is too harshly considered.
A few points of emphasis in the book are omitted or changed here like stopping at Sea-World and Radar’s Wikipedia-rivaling website, and the inclusion/development of Angela (which they do in the movie but not the book). A significant portion of the finding and piecing together of clues is also shortened here which makes sense. We don’t explore every surrounding subdivision and unfinished neighborhood conceivable, a point that was a little tedious in the book. The movie would have dragged if all of those steps and internal obsession of Q was included. Most in the group are also concerned about making prom on time. That is where the urgency comes from in the movie, not a true worry for Margo’s well-being.
As with so many of these teen movies, where are the parents? Five teens can all get into a car and disappear up the east coast without serious objections from their parents? They can end up where they do are and still think they can go to prom?! Wow.
Anyway the cast is very good, especially considering they aren’t huge names. That really lends some enjoyment to the films because you aren’t distracted by familiar faces and can buy these kids as who they are portraying. This is especially important as these films have not have huge budgets and are reliant on subtlety and performances.
Special features include: some sneak peeks.
“Paper Towns” is very good. Most of the omissions from the book were very wise for the sake of pacing though some will object tone some tonal…adjustments that arise. It’s for the best that this came out after ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ because this isn’t quite the star-making story that was for John Green, but it is further proof of his gift for writing for a young adult audience.
Rated PG-13 109 Minutes 2015