John Green is writing stories for this generation that they can relate to, be inspired by, and can take with them as they leave the security (confinement?) of being a teenager. “Paper Towns” is his latest YA novel to hit the big screen with Cara Delevingne showcasing her turn from runway model to leading lady, a move she seems quite comfortable with filling.
As Margo, she’s high school’s queen bee, who has outgrown her next door neighbor and childhood friend, Quentin (Nat Wolff). He, on the other hand, has not outgrown her and is more than willing to partake in late night revenge shenanigans as her accomplice when she calls on him out of the blue.
Adorable, mild-mannered Q is heading down a well-trodden path, one filled with contentment and predictability, but lacking in adventure and spontaneity. Enter Margo. For a brief moment, she shows him that just beyond his comfort zone is the exhilarating rush of throwing caution to the wind. After their night of fun, she promptly disappears, but leaves behind clues for Q to find her.
Here is where the heart of the story really lies and will make you reminisce fondly about your own high school BFFs. Q and his friends, Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith), are your average high school shadows that don’t belong to the popular crowd, but don’t necessarily need to either. Their friendship and fights and funny moments aren’t all that different than seeing Anthony Michael Hall and John Cusack play wallflower buddies in “Sixteen Candles.” A little bit dorky, but they don’t even care.
As they live out the last of their high school days and prep for prom, they join Q on his quest for the missing Margo and journey with him on an impromptu road trip (is there any other kind?) to find her in one of the nation’s elusive “paper towns.” Honestly every high school story, whether real or fictional, should have a road trip with a perfect soundtrack to accompany it.
What’s great about the movie is that while Delevingne is no doubt the main attraction when she’s on camera, the rest of the characters grow on you until you forget what their original mission is and you care about what happens to them. You want to know their stories. It’s fun to be in for the ride as they experience a bunch of firsts as friends. You almost wish that Margo would remain a mystery, so everything leading up to figuring her out will last for just a little bit longer.
Kind of like high school in that way. Just when things start getting good, it’s over.