Paper Towns: “PG-13” (2 Hours 3 Minutes)
Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith
Directed by: Jake Schreier
Based upon John Green’s third young adult novel published by Dutton Books Paper Towns is a sad, sweet, coming-of-age story full of teen angst and melancholy that centers on Quentin (Wolff) and his enigmatic and engaging neighbor Margo (Delevingne). Margo loves mysteries so much she becomes one herself. As kids, Margo’s family move into Quentin’s Jefferson Park, suburban Orlando, Florida neighborhood. The two become fast friends, until sometime around middle school when they began to drift apart. The cause for this had to do with Margo’s desire to constantly redefine and reinvent herself on her path to self-discovery, and Quentin’s desire to stay within the box of comfort zone that he has constructed for himself.
That is until just a couple of weeks before high school graduation, when a very upset Margo climbs into Quinton’s second-floor bedroom window (just like old times) and convinces him to go on a an all-night adventure through their hometown, where she gets revenge on a number of her (former) friends for a number of real and/or imagined slights. Well, Quinton, who is totally in love with her, agrees to accompany her. The morning following, Margo doesn’t show up for school, and soon it become clear that she’s run away yet again. Soon, life goes back to what passes for the new normal.
Then, days later, Quinton discovers that Margo left behind a number of very cryptic clues (as was her wont) for Quentin to decipher. Taking up the challenge of deciphering her clues Quentin and his quick-witted friends head out on an exhilarating adventure that is equal parts hilarious and moving. Ultimately, to track down Margo, Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship, and hopefully true love. The search leads them to Agloe NY, a “Paper Town” which is described in the film as a fake town used by cartographers to keep others from copying their maps.
This is an interesting film that starts out fairly typically for these kinds of stories, becomes a road trip, and then somewhere in the third act veers off into, well something that it didn’t start off being when the film started out.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.