FILM REVIEW: PAPER TOWNS
BY SCOTT PETERSON
Fresh off the success of last summer’s The Fault in Our Stars, best selling author John Green is at it again with his latest teen angst driven dramedy Paper Towns. While Paper Towns doesn’t pack the emotional punch that came with The Fault in Our Stars, Green clearly has mastered the art of effectively bridging the gap between late teen adolescence and the transition to college and adulthood. Thankfully, this one doesn’t require a box of Kleenex.
Quentin ( Nat Wolff) and Margo ( Cara Delevingne) have been best friends and “partners in crime” ever since they were young kids. As the years pass, the distance between the two grows. Now,in their senior year of high school,the adventurous Margo has become the ultra popular status symbol while the straight laced, University of Duke bound Quentin basically hangs out with his two best friends and band-mates Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar ( Justice Smith) and secretly pines over Margo. Naturally, Margo doesn’t acknowledge Quentin’s existence. Not even a glance in the school hallway.
Surprisingly, one night Margo crawls through Quentin’s window and asks to borrow his car. She gives him the option to join her as she looks to abstract revenge on her cheating boyfriend and all of his accomplices. The reluctant Quentin joins Margo on a one night crime spree that happens to include some spray paint, some cling wrap and a dead catfish. The night ends with a long embrace and Margo telling Quentin that he has to step out of his comfort zone. The next day Margo disappears. While not uncommon for the free spirited Margo to pick up and go ( she had previously ran away from home three other times,always leaving clues to her location), the loves-struck Quentin thinks she has bolted for good. Meanwhile,the legend of Margo continually grows as classmates whisper educated guesses on her whereabouts. The newly invigorated Quentin starts putting the puzzle together, piece by piece. After gathering enough clues, Quentin, Ben and Radar set off on a road trip to find Margo all while leaving just enough time to make it home for prom.
Paper Towns has enough moments where it clearly could have taken the cliched teen romantic comedy path, but every single time the opportunity presents itself, the film goes in a completely different direction. Little by little we see Quentin branch out. Where he was once a bystander watching other people take all the risks, his grip on the steering will grows firmer and firmer as he navigates unknown ground. The trio of friends are believable enough and more importantly,likable enough that you don’t mind being a fly on the wall as they start off on a journey searching for Margo and eventually end up finding themselves.